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Child & Teen Health

Giving babies and toddlers antibiotics can increase the risk of obesity

November 30, 2018

About the Author

photo of Claire McCarthy, MD

Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Claire McCarthy, MD, is a primary care pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. In addition to being a senior faculty editor for Harvard Health Publishing, Dr. McCarthy … See Full Bio
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December 4, 2018

Thank you for sharing this. While this is great to read because the perils of antibiotics isn’t new information for many parents (I wouldn’t say most, because most go with exactly what the doctor says because the doctor is an authority figure), it almost seems there is a huge gap between what doctors are taught and what seems… logical.
(in reference to general antibiotic use killing more than necessary, and not as it relates to obesity)

For example, many doctors are very happy to give antibiotics for everything. Doctors are humans, and if they are taught that antibiotics are the be-all end-all, then they will use their teachings “blindly” – i.e. they will not question why the antibiotics are taught to be the solution. They will think (as any person would), “well if they are teaching so in a prestigious med school, then it must be true”. The truth is that the med school is teaching based on books / teachings, that may not have questioned every single research mentioned in said books (maybe the author is the professor themselves or for a variety of other human reasons). And this goes even further back. The people who did the research may not have done the research properly or may have had other incentives (such as being published in this cut throat business or someone was over worked). My point here is that, antibiotics (amongst many other “solutions”), may not have been genuinely researched/taught to the doctors and the doctors were not taught to question it. I’m not saying that this is always the case – what I’m saying is that, without any guile on anyone’s part, this is a big possibility, because there are many layers of people involved (each of whom could have had a moment of weakness unintentionally not caught by any other person) before a medicine is given to a patient.

This is why reading this post is refreshing. However, this post means nothing if one doctor is not disseminating this information to the other doctors – at least all the Harvard and Harvard University Health Services doctors. It’s left up to the parents to point this out to the doctors. But do you know what happens when parents question a doctor? The doctor and their staff label the parents as the “wacky stupid parents, because they aren’t MDs but still think they know what’s best for their child”. Which makes the parents not want to go to a practice, potentially making things worse.

Please note that this is a generalized comment to an extent, and there are many different cases and different doctors that don’t fit in this.

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