Antibiotic Treatment in the First Week of Life Impacts the Growth Trajectory in the First Year of Life in Term Infants

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2019 Jul;69(1):131-136. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000002360.


Objective: Antibiotic treatment in early life appears to increase the risk for childhood overweight and obesity. So far, the association between antibiotics administrated specifically during the first week of life and growth has not been studied. Therefore, we studied the association between growth and antibiotics, given in the first week of life and antibiotic courses later in the first year of life.

Method: A prospective observational birth cohort of 436 term infants with 151 receiving broad-spectrum antibiotics for suspected neonatal infection (AB+), and 285 healthy controls (AB-) was followed during their first year. Weight, height, and additional antibiotic courses were collected monthly. A generalized-additive-mixed-effects model was used to fit the growth data. Growth curve estimation was controlled for differences in sex, gestational age, delivery mode, exclusive breast-feeding, tobacco exposure, presence of siblings, and additional antibiotic courses.

Results: Weight-for-age and length-for-age increase was lower in AB+ compared with AB- (P < 0.0001), resulting in a lower weight and length increase 6.26 kg (standard error [SE] 0.07 kg) and 25.4 cm (SE 0.27 cm) versus 6.47 kg (SE 0.06 kg) and 26.4 cm (SE 0.21 cm) (P < 0.05 and P < 0.005, respectively) in the first year of life. Approximately 30% of the children in both groups received additional antibiotic course(s) in their first year, whereafter additional weight gain of 76 g per course was observed (P = 0.0285).

Conclusions: Decreased growth was observed after antibiotics in the first week of life, whereas increased growth was observed after later antibiotic course(s) in term born infants in the first year of life. Therefore, timing of antibiotics may determine the association with growth.

Trial registration: NCT02536560.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Body Height / drug effects*
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Growth / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology
  • Prospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents

Associated data