Do these antibiotics make me look fat?

There has been a lot of interest and conflicting reports about whether antibiotics contribute to obesity.  Another interesting study on this theme:

  • ET Rogawski et al. JPGN 2017; 65: 350-6. 

The authors followed 1954 children twice weekly from birth to 2 years of age as part of the MAL-ED study.  There were 8 study sites, including in Bangladesh, India, Brazil, Pakistan, Nepal, South Africa, Peru, and Tanzania. Key finding:

  • Antibiotic use before 6 months of age was associated with increased weight from 6 months to 2 years of age.
  • Antibiotic use after 6 months did not affect growth.

The authors speculate: “If treatment of infections were the main mechanism, we would expect antibiotic exposure after 6 months to also have an impact.” Thus, they conclude that effects on the microbiome are likely a more important explanation.

My take (borrowed from te authors):  “Antibiotic use in low-resource settings” can improve growth, though the long-term consequences are not known.  In high-income settings, weight gain secondary to antibiotic exposure is more likely to be detrimental.

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