Antibiotics May Cause Early Obesity among Kids, Study Finds

December 19, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. antibiotics /ˌæn tɪ baɪˈɒt ɪks/ (n.) – drugs used for an illness caused by bacteria
Example: The doctor told him to take antibiotics for his flu.

2. obesity /ōˈbēsədē/ (n.) – the state of being too fat
Example: Unhealthy eating and lack of exercise can lead to obesity.

3. infection /ɪnˈfɛk ʃən/ (n.) – disease brought about by the presence of harmful bacteria or viruses in the body
Example: Touching your wound with dirty hands may cause infection.

4.  prescription /prɪˈskrɪpʃən/ (n.) – medical advice that may include a list of drugs given to patients
Example: Patients need to follow the doctor’s prescription.

5. exposure /ɪkˈspoʊ ʒər/ (n.) – the state of experiencing something
Example: His exposure to different drugs made him very sickly.


Read the text below.
There’s a new reason for parents to say no to antibiotics for their babies. Study suggests that babies under the age of two who take antibiotics are likely to develop early childhood obesity.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics, which are used to treat wide range of disease-causing bacteria, are usually prescribed by doctors to cure infections. It can easily treat fever, colds, and ear infections. All of which are illnesses prone to children with ages of two to five. Pediatricians tend to prescribe these kinds of antibiotics because a baby’s immune system is not yet strong enough to fight off serious infections.

While these medicines are effective, antibiotics can also eliminate good bacteria in the body. Researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine analyzed how antibiotics affect the bacteria in a baby’s digestive system.

The study looked into the health records of 64,580 children from Philadelphia dated between 2001 and 2013. Lead author Charles Bailey said that the bacteria eliminated by antibiotics are responsible for the body’s weight management.

Based on the findings, kids who took four or more antibiotic prescriptions had an 11% chance of becoming obese. Twenty-three percent of the two-year-old kids were overweight while 33 percent of them were overweight at the age of four. Researchers conclude that more exposure to antibiotics leads to higher risk of obesity.

According to pediatrician Sandra Arnold, the study provides evidence on how doctors should be careful in prescribing antibiotics to kids.  However, she admitted that prescribing antibiotic medication is still necessary. Thus, Arnold recommends using narrow-spectrum antibiotics that are effective only against specific types of bacteria.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why is research about obesity important? Kindly explain to your tutor.
·         What could be the disadvantages of early childhood obesity?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think taking several medicines is unsafe?
·         Do you think herbal medicines are better than traditional drugs? Why or why not? 

December 19, 2014