Children under two who are given antibiotics more likely to develop asthma and other illnesses
Multiple doses of antibiotics are associated with a variety of illnesses in later childhood according to a new study.
According to new research published last week in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, babies and toddlers who received one dose of antibiotics were more likely to have asthma, eczema, hay fever, food allergies, celiac disease, problems with weight and obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder later in childhood.
And worse: Multiple courses of an antibiotic below the age of two was associated with a child having multiple conditions, the study found, with the illnesses differing due to the child's gender, age, type of medication, dose and number of doses.
"We want to emphasize that this study shows association, not causation, of these conditions," senior study author Nathan LeBrasseur, a researcher at Mayo Clinic's Center on Aging, explained.
"These findings offer the opportunity to target future research to determine more reliable and safer approaches to timing, dosing and types of antibiotics for children in this age group."
The US-based researchers analyzed data from over 14,500 children who are part of the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a long-term study which analyses the medical records of volunteers in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Some 70 percent of the children in the study had received at least one antibiotic, with most receiving multiple antibiotics.
"Among children who received one or two prescriptions, only girls were at significantly higher risk to develop asthma and celiac disease compared to those unexposed," LeBrasseur and his team wrote. "By contrast, receiving three to four prescriptions was associated with a higher incidence of asthma, atopic dermatitis, and overweight in both sexes, ADHD and celiac disease in girls, and obesity in boys."
Babies of both sexes who received five or more prescriptions had "significantly higher risk to develop asthma, allergic rhinitis, overweight, obesity, and ADHD," the study found. And girls were at higher risk of celiac disease.
The study found penicillin, one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics, was associated with "increased risk for asthma and overweight in both sexes, celiac disease and ADHD in girls, and obesity in boys, whereas they were associated with reduced risk for autism in girls."
Another commonly prescribed antibiotic, cephalosporin, was linked to a higher risk for the greatest number of conditions and, "uniquely, autism and food allergies," the study found.