United Allergy Blog

Antibiotic Use in Infancy Could Increase Risk of Asthma: Childhood asthma and allergies linked to antibiotic use during first two years

Category: General Allergy

(dailyRx News) The number of people with asthma has significantly increased over the last three decades. Different medical exposures during infancy may have something to do with the rising number.

A recent study found that children who were given antibiotics during infancy were at higher risk of developing asthma, eczema and hay fever by mid-childhood, compared to children who did not take antibiotics during infancy.

The researchers concluded that the risk was associated with the total amount of antibiotic cycles taken during the first two years of life.

"Talk to your pediatrician about the risks associated with antibiotics during infancy."

The lead author of this study was John Henderson from the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol in Bristol, United Kingdom.

The study included 5,780 children born between April 1, 1991 and December 31, 1992 in Avon, United Kingdom. The participants' mothers had been recruited for a previous study called the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

The current study population was 49 percent female and 97 percent white.

The mothers were given three questionnaires and asked to report their children's antibiotic use during 0 to 6 months of age, 6 to 15 months of age and 15 to 24 months of age — including the total number of antibiotic cycles taken from 0 to 24 months of age.

The researchers also asked the mothers to report if their children had been diagnosed with asthma at any point by the time they were 7.5 years old. The mothers were also asked to report if their children had experienced any eczema or hay fever symptoms in the 12 months leading up to their children turning 7.5 years old.

The findings showed that 3,992 (or 69 percent) of the participants were not given antibiotics during the first six months of their lives.

The researchers also found that 2,702 (or 47 percent) of the participants did not take antibiotics between 6 and 15 months of age, and 3,119 (or 54 percent) were not given antibiotics between 15 and 24 months.

By 7.5 years old, 617 of the participants (or 11 percent) had developed asthma.

In addition, 992 (or 17 percent) of the participants had eczema and 504 (or 9 percent) had hay fever by the age of 7.5 years old.

The researchers determined that the participants who had received antibiotics between 0 and 24 months of age had 1.75 times increased odds of developing asthma by 7.5 years old compared to the participants who did not receive antibiotics during infancy.

The number of antibiotic cycles was associated with increasing odds of having asthma by 7.5 years old.

The findings revealed that the participants who had one cycle of antibiotics between 0 and 24 months had 1.11 times increased odds of developing asthma at 7.5 years old compared to the participants who did not take antibiotics from 0 to 24 months.

The participants who received two cycles of antibiotics between 0 and 24 months were found to have 1.5 times higher odds of developing asthma by 7.5 years old compared to the participants who were not given antibiotics in infancy.

The researchers also found that three cycles of antibiotics during 0 to 24 months was associated with 1.79 times increased odds, and four or more cycles was associated with 2.82 increased odds of developing asthma by 7.5 years old compared to the participants who were not given antibiotics from 0 to 24 months.

The participants who took antibiotics during infancy had 1.20 times increased odds of developing eczema, and 1.28 times increased odds of developing hay fever compared to the participants who did not take antibiotics during that time period.

In addition, the girls were found to have .70 times decreased odds of asthma and .63 times decreased odds of hay fever compared to the boys. Conversely, the girls had 1.21 increased odds of developing eczema compared to the boys.

The researchers concluded that the risk of developing asthma, eczema and hay fever was associated with the total amount of antibiotics given during 0 to 24 months of age, rather than at a certain point during that time.

The authors noted a couple limitations.

First, the data on antibiotic use was reported by the mothers and not confirmed with the participants' medical records. Second, the researchers did not consider the different classes of antibiotics.

This study was published online ahead-of-print on December 2 in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.

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By: Liza Baskin
December 17, 2013
DailyRX.com