Study Reveals Antibiotics Can Lower The Good Effects Of Breastfeeding In Babies

First Posted: Jun 19, 2016 04:52 AM EDT

Breastfeeding has always been known to do wonderful things for babies. However, a new study has revealed that infants prescribed with antibiotics get less breastfeeding benefits compared to those infants who do not.

According to Medline Plus, researchers discovered that babies who were prescribed antibiotics while they were breast-feeding or shortly afterward were prone to infections and obesity. "In breast milk, unlike in formula milk, the infant receives bacteria from the mother and specific sugar components that promote the growth of certain [gut] bacteria," explained lead researcher Katri Korpela, from the immunobiology research program at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

The results of the new study published in the JAMA Pediatrics claimed that breastfeeding's health benefits are primarily based on how it developed the child's intestinal bacteria. The findings also showed that the prescribed antibiotics disrupt babies' intestinal bacteria development.

A report from Tech Times said that researchers examined the data of 226 Finnish children who participated in a 2009-2010 probiotic research. The mothers of each child participants were asked about their breastfeeding activities while the researchers looked into purchase records to check the children's usage of antibiotics.

The results showed that about 97 percent of the babies were breastfed for at least a month with an average breastfeeding period of eight months. The researchers found that 50 percent of the babies, who weren't using antibiotics before weaning, linked breast-feeding to lower incidence of infections after they were weaned and has lower weights as kids. As a matter of fact, the usage of antibiotics was cut to 5 percent each month they were breast-fed.

However, the other 50 percent who were given antibiotics while being breastfed and within four months after weaning showed more infections and were more likely to become overweight.

"It's well known that breast-fed babies will always do better in fighting infection because of the immunity offered in mother's milk," said Dr. William Muinos, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami.

Antibiotics kill the bacteria in the gut, he said. "If you are not breast-fed, you are not introducing the healthy [probiotic] bacteria," Muinos said. He also reminded that antibiotics should not be given to infants every time they have fever or infection. "You should not use antibiotics on viral infections, where they are useless," he said.

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