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Antibiotic Exposure in Infancy Can Be a factor of Increased Risk of Childhood Obesity

8 August 2015


Background: Childhood obesity is a rising epidemic worldwide. As risk factors are identified, clinicians can help prevent the rising epidemic by educating patients and family members. This review looks at the exposure of antibiotics in infancy as a potential risk factor for childhood obesity.

Methods: Exhaustive search of available medical literature was conducted in MEDLINE-Ovid, CINAHL, and Web of Science. Keywords used included antibiotic exposure, antibiotic, or antibacterial agents and infant and obesity.

Results: Forty-three articles were reviewed for relevancy, four studies were found to be relevant. Only three studies were analyzed in this systematic review, one study was excluded due to outcomes being measured less than seven years of age. All three studies showed increased risk of children being overweight after exposure to antibiotics in infancy. Two studies did further analysis on risk of childhood weight concerns in boys compared to girls. These two studies showed boys had an increased risk of childhood overweight compared to girls. The overall quality of the studies was low and further studies need to be completed looking at larger and more diverse populations with longer follow up periods.

Conclusion: Knowing that early exposure to antibiotics during infancy could be a risk factor for childhood weight concerns, including obesity, clinicians can use this information as another consideration in decreasing the amount of prescribed antibiotics in infancy and to educate parents and patients on prevention of childhood obesity.

Keywords: Antibiotic exposure, antibiotic, antibacterial agents, infant, obesity


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