Young children who are prescribed antibiotics and antacids to tackle excess stomach acid might have a greater risk of obesity.
Research published in the journal Gut suggested the drugs, especially if taken for long periods, may alter gut microbes associated with weight gain.
The study looked at over 330,000 infants in the US over the first two years of their lives and found that just over 14% of children became obese, and only 11% of those had not been prescribed antibiotics or acid suppressants.
The report said: ‘Although there is mounting evidence of unanticipated consequences associated with antibiotic and antacid medication use, providers should practice appropriate stewardship as the first line response to these findings.’
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘This new study, linking antibiotic and antacid use with obesity, is extremely interesting, but does not prove causation. As such, it is very important that more research is conducted in this area.’
‘Antibiotics and antacids can be very effective at treating a number of conditions in young children, and GPs will discuss and consider any potential short or long-term side effects or health implications with the child’s parents or guardians, when developing a treatment plan.’
It comes as the latest data from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for 2017/18 found that obesity in children aged 10 to 11 years has reached a record high, despite the Government’s obesity strategy.