Of the total group, 72.5 per cent were prescribed antibiotics, 12 per cent were prescribed H2RA acid suppressants and 3 per cent were prescribed PPI gastric protector medication.
A review of more than 300,000 children found that those prescribed antibiotics during their first two years of life had a 26 per cent higher risk of obesity.
The study, led by Christopher M Stark, Apryl Susi, Jill Emerick and Cade M Nylund, reports that acid suppressants and antibiotics taken in early childhood can modify gut microbiota, especially if they are taken for prolonged periods, and may, in turn, increase the likelihood of developing obesity.
To find out if exposure to such drugs in early childhood might increase the risk of obesity, the researchers looked at the medicines prescribed to 333,353 youngsters, whose medical records had been input into the US Military Health System database between 2006 and 2013, in the first two years of their lives.
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A prescription for antibiotics was associated with a 26 per cent heightened risk of obesity.
Antibiotics have always been linked to obesity and farmers give them to cattle with the express goal of bulking them up.
For the study, researchers from Walter Reed National Military Medical in the U.S. examined 333,353 infants among which almost 46,993 children became obese.
Acid suppressants were also associated with a heightened obesity risk, although to a lesser extent, and this association strengthened for each 30-day supply prescribed. This is thought to be because antibiotics kill off gut bacteria more quickly.
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This new study, linking antibiotic and antacid use with obesity, is extremely interesting, but does not prove causation.
Boys, those born after a Caesarean section, and those whose parents were below officer rank were more likely to become obese.
However, British experts remain sceptical about the study, which is published in the journal Gut. As such, it is very important that more research is conducted in this area'.
"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".
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