Overusing antibiotics has reportedly previously been linked to various health concerns.
A new study conducted by researchers from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that over-exposure to antibiotics can lead to increased weight gain for children, according to Yahoo News.
For the study, the health records of more than 160,000 children between the ages of 3 and 18 from 2001 to 2012 were analyzed by Dr. Brian Schwartz, a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Bloomberg School, and his team, according to CBS News.
The data they analyzed reportedly included height and weight to determine body mass index and antibiotic use in previous years. The results reportedly showed that children who received antibiotics seven or more times during childhood weighed about three pounds more than those who hadn’t been exposed.
“Your BMI [body mass index] may be forever altered by the antibiotics you take as a child,” said study leader Schwartz.
“Our data suggests that every time we give an antibiotic to kids they gain weight faster over time.”
Antibiotics may be linked to weight gain due to the fact that when the drugs kill off harmful bacteria, they also reportedly affect bacteria that are vital for gastrointestinal health.
“Our models suggest that the effect likely continues into adulthood and the BMI trajectories of children who did and did not receive antibiotics are increasingly diverging at older ages," Schwartz told CBS News.
“Although we did not observe children past 18 years, I would bet that this kind of pattern would continue."
Although the study doesn’t suggest that antibiotics should be avoided forever, it’s important for physicians to prescribe the drugs only when necessary.
“Bottom line: If your doctor tells you that you or your child does not need antibiotics, don't ask for them, don't take them, don't try to find another doctor who will provide them,” explained Schwartz.
“Eat healthy and your gut microbiota will be very good to you. Don't change your gut microbiota unnecessarily by taking antibiotics if you don't need them."