Obesity a Factor in How Kids Metabolize Drugs

Obesity has an impact on the effectiveness of medications in children, according to a new study, leading researchers to examine dosing recommendations.

A new study from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy shows that obesity could cause some children to metabolize drugs differently than kids of a normal, healthy weight.

The researchers tested 25 children ages 6 to 10 – nine who were obese and 16 who were a healthy weight – to determine the differences in metabolizing both caffeine and dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant that is found in over-the-counter cough medicine. The study found that overweight children did metabolize both drugs differently than those of a normal weight.

Dr. L’Aurelle Johnson, coauthor of the study, explained in a news release that researchers have known for years that obese adults metabolize substances differently than adults of a healthy weight. However, according to Johnson, “there has been very little, if any, information available that specifically addresses the consequences of obesity on drug metabolism in children. Without this information, our ability to identify optimal drug dosing in children often relies on trial and error approaches.”

Understanding how and why overweight and obese children break down drugs differently will help in the development of dosing recommendations as well as allow doctors to prescribe drug amounts that will be most effective, while limiting possible adverse reactions to prescribed drugs for each patient.

The latest study findings were presented last week at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting in Anaheim, California. The authors note that additional research is needed to better understand the complete effect that excessive weight can have on metabolism and drug absorption in children.

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