Frequent Antibiotics May Make Children Fatter

News Brief by Isabel Smokelin

         Tara Parker-Pope’s article, “Frequent Antibiotics May Make Children Fatter”, describes the current scientific issues surrounding childhood weight gain and antibiotic use. In the past, most research on child antibiotic use was based on anecdotal evidence from concerned parents. However, a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity uses evidence from electronic medical records to analyze the positive correlation between childhood bodyweight and antibiotic use. On average, by age 15, children who frequently took antibiotics weighed three pounds more than those who did not. This may be because antibiotics kill many types of bacteria in the human body, not just the targeted pathogens. Healthy bacteria found in the human gut is destroyed, significantly altering metabolism and affecting the way nutrients are extracted from food. Additionally, a Danish study done this past summer revealed that during pregnancy, a mother’s antibiotic use can lead to obesity in her child. These studies may provide a new direction for antibiotic use in the medical community. Traditionally, people have worried about the overuse of antibiotics leading to strains of antibiotic-resistance bacteria. A concerned parent is prone to request treatment even if there is a slight chance of disease. The new discoveries of the relationship between antibiotic use and childhood obesity may dissuade parents from requesting unnecessary antibiotics for their children. 


Parker-Pope, T. (2015, October 21). Frequent Antibiotics May Make Children Fatter. The New York Times. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from