Exposure to antibiotics' during pregnancy heightens obesity risk in kids

In a new study, scientists have revealed that children who were exposed to antibiotics while in the womb, face greater of become obese.

ANI| Last Updated: Nov 19, 2014, 11:56 AM IST

Washington: In a new study, scientists have revealed that children who were exposed to antibiotics while in the womb, face greater of become obese.

The research by Columbia University found that kids of mothers who took antibiotics in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, had a higher risk of childhood obesity at age 7, and for mothers who delivered their babies by a Caesarean section, whether elective or non-elective, there was a higher risk for obesity in their offspring.

Researchers are beginning to understand that the bacteria that normally inhabit our colon have important roles in maintaining our health and imbalances in these bacterial populations could cause a variety of illnesses. Disturbances in the normal, transmission of bacteria from the mother to the child have been thought to place the child at risk for several health conditions, including obesity.

The study is based on data of healthy, non-smoking, pregnant women who were recruited for the Northern Manhattan Mothers and Children Study from prenatal clinics at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Harlem Hospital Center between 1998 and 2006. Of 727 mothers enrolled in the study, 436 mothers and their children were followed until 7 years of age. Of these 436 children, 16 percent had mothers who used antibiotics in the second or trimester.

The children exposed to antibiotics in this timeframe had an 84-percent higher risk of obesity, compared with children who were not exposed.

Noel Mueller said that their findings were novel, and thus warranted replication in other prospective cohort studies. The findings should not discourage antibiotic use when they were medically needed, but it was important to recognize that antibiotics were currently overprescribed.

Similar to antibiotic use during pregnancy, Caesarean section birth has been thought to reduce the normal transmission of bacteria from the mother to the child and to disturb the balance of bacteria in the child.

Dr. Andrew Rundle added that further research was needed on how mode of delivery, antibiotic use during pregnancy and other factors influence the establishment of the ecosystem of bacteria that inhabit each person.

The findings are published online in the International Journal of Obesity.