Study finds taking antibiotics while pregnant can weaken baby's immune system
Experts have for some time now been warning us that we soon might be facing an epidemic of people dying from conditions that up until now have been easily treated with antibiotics due to overuse and a much too relaxed attitude towards prescribing this medicine.
And now it seems there might be more worrying news about the use of antibiotics, as scientists have now found that not only can antibiotics taken during pregnancy weaken a baby’s immune system, it can also potentially increase their risk of developing pneumonia later in life.
The problem? Antibiotics kill not only bad bacteria, but can also flush out good – and important – other bacteria from our guts. And this becomes a problem when we know that friendly gut bacteria - which play a pivotal role in the development of a child - are frequently wiped out by the drugs, according to new research published in Science Translational Medicine.
In a new study, researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found that exposing pregnant mice to antibiotics left their offspring with a higher risk of developing pneumonia - which, in some cases, can potentially be deadly.
Even worse? The scientists also found that immune system cells linked to fighting lung cancer were missing after exposure to antibiotics. As well as this, on a long-term basis, the continued disruptions to gut bacteria appear to cause permanent immune system damage.
This is what Dr Hitesh Deshmukh, the study's lead author, had to say about his team's finds:
"It is time to begin pushing back on practices that were established decades ago, when our level of understanding was different," Deshmukh explains about the practice of giving antibiotics preventatively to women undergoing a C-section.
"To prevent infection in one infant, we are exposing 200 infants to the unwanted effects of antibiotics. A more balanced, more nuanced approach is possible."