ISLAMABAD  – Exposing very young infants to antibiotics may cause them to bloat up in childhood, says a new research based on 11,532 children.

Researchers from the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and and its Wagner School of Public Service found that, on an average, children exposed to antibiotics from birth to five months of age weighed more for their height than children who were not exposed to antibiotics.

Between the ages of 10 to 20 months, this translated into small increases in body mass percentile, based on models that incorporated the potential impacts of diet, physical activity and parental obesity, the International Journal of Obesity reports.

By 38 months, exposed children had a 22 percent greater likelihood of being overweight. However, the timing of exposure mattered: children exposed from six months to 14 months did not have significantly higher body mass than children who did not receive antibiotics in that same time period, according to a New York statement.

The NYU School of Medicine researchers, led by Leonardo Trasande, associate professor of paediatrics and environmental medicine and Jan Blustein, professor of population health and medicine, caution that the study only shows that a correlation between antibiotics and obesity exists.

“We typically consider obesity an epidemic grounded in unhealthy diet and exercise, yet increasingly studies suggest it is more complicated,” said Trasande. “Microbes in our intestines may play critical roles in how we absorb calories, and exposure to antibiotics, especially early in life, may kill off healthy bacteria that influence how we absorb nutrients into our bodies, and would otherwise keep us lean,” said Trasande.

This is the first time that a study has analysed the association between the use of antibiotics and body mass starting in infancy.

Daily cup of coffee adds 4.5 kg to weight annually

A daily cup of latte coffee can add around 4.5 kg (10 pounds) to your weight a year, British experts have warned. The boom in high-street coffee shops is helping fuel the obesity epidemic in Britain, the Daily Express reported, citing fitness trainers’ body the Register Of Exercise Professionals (REPS).

A small cup of latte with full-fat milk contains 153 calories while a cup of black coffee with semi-skimmed milk has only 35. Even health-conscious people who avoid junk food do not realise how much fat and sugar they are drinking, said REPS, which carried out a dietary study of 2,000 British adults.

It added that half of Britons are now classed as overweight or obese, and warned that the number will rise higher.

Speech patterns reveal depression levels

Speech patterns can reveal the severity of depression as well as a patient’s response to treatment, suggests a new study. The study, the largest of its kind in the world, found that improvement in patients diagnosed with depression and undergoing treatment can be monitored over the phone by looking at changes in their speech.

Adam Vogel, who heads the Speech Neuroscience Unit at Australia’s University of Melbourne, said speech was a strong marker of brain health, and changes in how we sound reflected how well our brain was working, the journal Biological Psychiatry reports.

“The speech of people with depression changes when they respond to treatment, becoming faster and with shorter pauses. Those with more severe depression produce longer pauses and have slower speaking rates,” Vogel said, according to a Melbourne statement.

The randomised controlled trial of 105 patients looked at vocal acoustic properties such as timing, pitch and intonation to see if they could provide reliable biomarkers to depression severity and responses to treatment.

Patients were required to call an automated telephone system and leave samples of their speech, such as saying how they felt, reading a passage of text and reciting the alphabet.

“This offers greater treatment flexibility as we can now check on our patients remotely, looking at their speech patterns even from remote or rural areas,” said James Mundt, senior research scientist at the Centre for Psychological Consultation in Wisconsin, US, who collaborated with Vogel.

“We know that depressed patients have difficulties expressing themselves, so if we can improve how we assess depression, then we can improve how we treat it,” added Mundt.