A new study adds to the growing list of concerns about the potential danger of antibiotics by suggesting giving a baby the drugs too soon could set them up for being overweight children.
The study said babies exposed to antibiotics before they're 6 months old are likely to be chubby toddlers, though their weight tends to return to average by the time they're 7.
Researchers found that unnecessary use of the drugs can disrupt healthy bacteria in the gut, leading the body to make and store more fat.
Dr. Anthony GiaQuinta, a pediatrician with Hendricks Regional Health, said if antibiotics are contributing to childhood obesity, this is one factor doctors can control.
"We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic... If we can identify risk factors and hopefully prevent obesity before it occurs, then we can have dramatic effects down the line," GiaQuinta said.
This is the first study to analyze the relationship between body mass and antibiotics, but it's not saying babies who need antibiotics shouldn't get them.
"Providing antibiotics is something that pediatricians need to do with discretion," GiaQuinta said.