Are you one of those parents who rely on OTC medications to treat your child’s runny nose and mild fever? A new study warns that giving antibiotics to your kids each time they catch a cold, or have a fever, could make them obese later on in life.
It states that the commonly prescribed antibiotics can lead to changes in the gut bacteria of kids and make them vulnerable to infectious diseases, allergies and other autoimmune disorders, and even obesity, later in life.
“We synthesized hundreds of studies over the last year and found a strong correlation between antibiotic use, changes in gut bacteria, and disease in adulthood,” said the study’s senior author Dan Knights, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota.
Antibiotics are, by far, the most common prescription drugs given to children. Other studies have shown profound short- and long-term effects of antibiotics on the diversity and composition of the bacteria in our bodies, which is known as microbiome.
In the current study, the researcher developed a framework to map how antibiotics may be acting in the gut to cause disease later in life. In case of allergies, for example, the use of antibiotics may eradicate key gut bacteria that help immune cells mature.
Related to obesity, antibiotic-induced changes in the gut microbiota resulted in increased levels of short-chain fatty acids that affect metabolism, the findings showed.
The researchers demonstrated that an infant’s age could be predicted within 1.3 months based on the maturity of their gut bacteria. The findings may lead to recommendations for antibiotic usage and a clinical test for measuring gut microbe development in children.
The study appeared in the scientific journal Cell Host & Microbe.