Study: Antibiotics Linked to Latino Childhood Obesity Risk


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Childhood obesity is a serious problem facing our country, especially among Latinos who have far less healthy weights than their non-Latino peers.

A new study has found an unlikely, controversial source for Latino childhood obesity: Antibiotic exposure.

latina mom with baby food bottleExposing a child to antibiotics before the age 6 months increases the risk of obesity by age 2 for Latino infants in low-income urban communities, according to an article published in the journal Childhood Obesity.

Study authors determined that antibiotics might have “harmful effects … on the healthy gut microbiome” during the early period of development for young children.

This could increase the risk of obesity as they get older.

“The work by [Drs. Annette Ville, Janet Wojcicki, and others at the University of California, San Francisco] expands this work to Latino families and detects quite strong odds ratios for obesity from early antibiotic use even after controlling for potential confounding variables,” said Childhood Obesity Editor-in-Chief Dr. Tom Baranowski, also with the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “While this is obviously not the last word in this important area of research, it provides an important piece of the puzzle.”

The researchers, who studied 97 pregnant Latinas for the research, showed a “statistically significant” increase in the risk for early rapid weight gain and obesity at age 2 among the Latino infants that were “exposed to antibiotics” during the first 6 months of life.

You can read more about the report here.

What can we do?

Many other factors contribute to Latino childhood obesity, including a lack of access to healthy food and places for physical activity, as well as unhealthy issues in early development and school, according to research by Salud America!, a national childhood obesity prevention network led by UT Health San Antonio and sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

But there are several ways parents, teachers, and leaders can push for healthy changes.

See our Take Action page for big ideas!

By The Numbers By The Numbers



for every Latino neighborhood, compared to 3 for every non-Latino neighborhood

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