Antibiotics in infancy significantly diminish the positive effects of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding has many health benefits for child development. This includes, for example, a reduced risk of infection and a lower likelihood of being overweight later in life, Finnish scientists report in the journal "JAMA Pediatrics". However, taking antibiotics in infancy could negate these effects, explains the research team led by Katri Korpela from the University of Helsinki.
Based on the assumption that many positive effects of breastfeeding come into play, in particular via the microbiome or the intestinal flora, the researchers investigated the possible negative effects of taking antibiotics on the benefits of breastfeeding. In particular, they analyzed the connection with the risk of infection and overweight in children. It turned out that antibiotics in infancy actually largely wipe out the benefits of breastfeeding.
Long-term effects on the development of the microbiome
In their current study, the scientists examined whether the use of antibiotics prevents the long-term positive effects of breastfeeding on weight development and the risk of infection. They also checked whether the duration of breastfeeding is related to the long-term development of the microbiome. The researchers examined the effects of breastfeeding and antibiotic use on a total of 226 children. In each case 113 children had received antibiotics in infancy or had not taken any antibiotics. In addition, the scientists analyzed the diversity of their intestinal flora in 42 children at regular intervals using stool samples.
Infection risk and weight development evaluated
The study focused on the effects of taking antibiotics on the risk of obesity and resistance to infections. The researchers used the so-called body mass index (BMI) to assess the weight of the children and the risk of infection was assessed using the prescriptions of antibiotics after weaning. According to the researchers, it was clearly shown that children who did not take antibiotics in infancy required five percent fewer antibiotic treatments after weaning each month with breastfeeding and had a BMI that was 0.08 percent lower, the researchers write. In contrast, among the 113 children who received antibiotics in infancy, there was hardly any significant effect of breastfeeding on the BMI and the later antibiotic treatments.
The positive effects of long breastfeeding are lost
The scientists also report that analysis of the stool samples in 42 children showed that children with short breastfeeding (0-6 months) without antibiotics and children with long breastfeeding (8-16 months) and early antibiotics had one significantly lower abundance of certain intestinal bacteria was found - compared to children with long breastfeeding and without antibiotics. The researchers conclude that the use of antibiotics in a child during breastfeeding clearly weakens the beneficial effects of long breastfeeding. In addition, the current study results would indicate that "the long-term metabolic benefits of breastfeeding are promoted by the intestinal flora," reports Katri Korpela and colleagues. (fp)