Gutbliss - Dr. Robynne Chutkan


Infections in childhood increase obesity risk

Previous studies have assessed the relationship between antibiotic use and childhood obesity, but these studies didn’t take into account the possibility that the infections themselves (and not just the medications used to treat them) may also increase childhood obesity risk.

This study followed over 61,000 children over a 4-year period and assessed infection frequency and type (bronchitis, pharyngitis, otitis media, or upper respiratory) and antibiotic exposure in the first year of life. Results showed that for each additional infection a child experienced in the first year of life, there was a significant increased risk of childhood obesity. Interestingly, antibiotic exposure was not as significant as the infections themselves. The researchers concluded that changes in the infants’ microbiome as a result of the infections is likely behind the increased risk of childhood obesity.

While protecting your infant from infection by limiting exposure to “germs” may be your first reaction to these findings, that would be the wrong approach. Exposing your infant to important “founding species” through having a vaginal birth and breastfeeding when possible, eating lots of whole plant foods, and spending time outdoors in nature actually strengthens their microbiome and makes them more resilient to infection. Seeding your baby’s gut microbiome with essential species can take many forms, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t check every box… just try to do as many as you can!

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