Antacids, antibiotics may up obesity risk in childhood

More than 333,000 youngsters were included in the research

Antacids - drugs taken to curb excessive stomach acid - taken in the first two years of life may also have an effect, though much smaller, researchers from the USA found.

Prescription of antibiotics and acid-suppressing medications in early childhood is associated with an increased risk for obesity, according to a study published online October 30 in Gut.

The study examined antibiotic and antacid prescriptions for 333,353 children in their first two years and followed their medical records up to the age of eight.

The research focused on medicines prescribed to these youngsters during the first two years of their lives.

The findings further revealed that antibiotics or acid suppressants was associated with a heightened risk of obesity by the age of 3 - the average age at which obesity was first identified in these children.

According to the study, boys born by C-section are at greater risk of developing obesity.

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Because the study is observational it can not establish cause but the authors wrote: "We found that outpatient prescriptions for antibiotics and acid-suppressing medications within the first two years of life are associated with the development of early childhood obesity".

In all, 72.5 per cent had been prescribed an antibiotic; just under 12 per cent an H2RA; and just over three per cent a PPI during that period. a total of 5,868 children were prescribed all three types of drug.

Some 46,993 (just over 14%) children became obese, of whom 9628 (11%) had not been prescribed any antibiotics or acid suppressants. This is thought to be because antibiotics kill off gut bacteria more quickly.

He added: 'That said, childhood obesity levels in the United Kingdom are at crisis point with one in three children overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school'.

'We have to be careful about medications which might risk obesity because people who are obese in childhood typically increase their weight in adulthood, putting them in danger of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems'.

Davie did stress the study has its limitations, being observational and not taking into.

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