Impact of early antibiotic exposure on growth

June 1, 2015

Early antibiotic use increases weight and growth in children.

Early antibiotic use increases weight and growth in children. It is well known that antibiotics promote growth in farm animals. Now a study in about 12,000 children in Finland shows similar effects in healthy children. Children who received systemic antibiotics during infancy were on average heavier than unexposed children at the age of ≥24 months, with a mean higher BMI of 0.13 in boys and 0.07 in girls. Exposed boys also were slightly taller than unexposed boys. First exposure to antibiotics before the age of 6 months or repeatedly during the first 23 months of life had the largest effect on BMI, with the most pronounced effects attributable to broad-spectrum antibiotics such as macrolides (Saari A, et al. Pediatrics. 2015;135[4]:617-626).

Ms Freedman is a freelance medical editor and writer in New Jersey. She has nothing to disclose in regard to affiliations with or financial interests in any organizations that may have an interest in any part of this article.