Antibiotics are, without any doubt, one of the most important inventions in medicine and pharmacy. They have saved millions of lives, extended life expectancy and brought peace to mothers and paediatricians who were compelled to work wonders with babies who couldn’t say what’s wrong and what hurt. But, since there’s always a “but”, antibiotics are sometimes too easy to access and are used without great judgement at the first sign of illness.
Such behaviour must be avoided so that antibiotics do not become responsible for doing more harm than good. And one of the less pleasant side-effects of the abusive use of antibiotics could be the increase in the risk of children gaining weight. This idea is supported by research conducted by a prestigious medical institution in the United States of America, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The doctors conducting the study analysed a series of medical data gathered from 160,000 children aged between 3 to 18. They focused on the body mass index, an important point of reference in evaluating the optimal weight (BMI=Weight in kg divided by the squared height in metres).
The results made the doctors conclude that: those children who had been treated with antibiotics at least 7 times up to the age of 15 had an average body weight almost two kilos more than the ones who hadn’t been prescribed any antibiotics.
The explanation the doctors found is simple: besides the bad bacteria or infection, the antibiotics also destroy healthy microorganisms from the digestive tract, those which contribute to the processing of foods. Once this mechanism is damaged, the digestion of food is not done correctly, so they accumulate in the body, leading to gaining weight.
So you’d better think twice before giving your child antibiotics without asking for a doctor’s advice!