This research project is in progress. PCORI will post its findings here within 90 days after our final review is complete. In the meantime, results have been published in peer-reviewed journals, as listed below.
What is the research about?
Antibiotics are medicines that help fight infections. They are used too much, often for mild infections that don’t need antibiotics. This overuse leads to problems, such as antibiotics not working because the bacteria they are meant to kill develop resistance. Antibiotics can also have side effects. One long-term side effect may be weight gain, which happens when antibiotics destroy good bacteria in the gut.
Children with obesity are more likely than children without obesity to develop diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and other health problems as they grow up. Doctors want to know whether babies or children who take antibiotics a lot gain weight that could put the children at risk for obesity later in childhood. Also, doctors want to know if taking certain types or amounts of antibiotics, or taking antibiotics at certain ages, leads children to gain weight.
This study is looking at how different types, amounts, and timing of antibiotic use may affect growth and obesity among children ages 0 to 10 years old.
Who can this research help?
This research can help doctors, parents, and caregivers decide about using antibiotics to treat infections in children.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is reviewing medical records for nearly 700,000 children from birth to age 10 in the United States. The team is looking at several questions:
- When do doctors prescribe antibiotics to children during the first two years of life and how does that relate to weight later in childhood?
- What type and amount of antibiotics do doctors prescribe to each child?
- Do children weigh more if their mothers took antibiotics while they were pregnant?
The research team is looking at each child’s weight and growth patterns, and whether a child takes steroids, or has asthma or other long-term health problems.
Parents, caregivers, and doctors give advice to the research team on how doctors, patients, medical societies, and others could use the findings from this study. Community groups and other organizations provide advice on how to carry out the study.
Research methods at a glance
|Design||Observational: cohort study|
|Population||Children ages 0-10 years|
Primary: body mass index z-score
Secondary: obesity, overweight, growth patterns (changes in height and weight)
|Follow-up to 10 years of age|
^Matthew Gillman, MD, MS, was the original principal investigator on this project.