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Infants Treated With Antibiotics at Increased Risk for Atopy and Asthma

Infants Treated With Antibiotics at Increased Risk for Atopy and Asthma

Wednesday, October 8th 2003

Exposure to antibiotics in infancy appears to increase the risk of childhood atopy and possibly allergic asthma, study results suggest.

Dr. Christine Cole Johnson, a senior research epidemiologist for Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, presented her team's findings on Tuesday at the European Respiratory Society's annual conference in Vienna.

There are conflicting reports on whether exposure to antibiotics in infancy raises the risk of atopy and asthma.

Dr. Johnson and colleagues reviewed the medical records of 445 children participating in an HMO-based birth cohort study in the Detroit area. Forty-nine percent of the children had been treated with an antibiotic in the first 6 months of life. The children were followed for the development of atopy and allergic asthma until age 6 and 7 when they were evaluated by a board-certified allergist.

Use of antibiotics in the first 6 months of life was associated with an adjusted relative risk of atopy of 1.5 and of allergic asthma of 2.5 by the age of 7, compared with children not receiving antibiotics in infancy.

"For asthma, in particular, the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics was associated with an even higher relative risk of 8.9," Dr. Johnson told Reuters Health.

The association between early antibiotic exposure and the development of allergy and asthma was stronger in certain subgroups, namely children with a maternal history of allergies and asthma and those who did not have pets in the home.

This latter finding supports the "hygiene hypothesis," which holds that early life exposure to bacterial infection and bacterial products induces tolerance and thereby prevents the development of allergic disease. Early antibiotic use may influence the gastrointestinal tract and alter the development of the maturing immune system.

"You are exposed to a lot of bacteria when you have pets around. For kids that are in a so-called sterile environment, antibiotics may be more of a risk factor," Dr. Johnson added.

"Interestingly," she said, the link between early antibiotic use and atopy was also stronger among children who had been breast fed for 4 months or longer, with a relative risk of 3.0. "The jury is out on whether breastfeeding is good or bad regarding allergies," Dr. Johnson said.

The current study supports the ongoing trend to limit the use of antibiotics. "Infants that do require antibiotics might be monitored for allergies and asthma," she added.

By Megan Rauscher

Sourced from Reuters Health

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following supplements are all useful for asthma:

ALJ
Breathe Clear
Emphysemol
Eczema Shield Powder
Family C
Food Sensativity Test Kit
Hi Strength Fish Oil for Kids
Inner Health Plus for Kids
Primadophilus for Child
Lung Elixir
Vitamin and Mineral Boost Powder

Related health information can be found here:

Antibiotic Use
Allergies
Asthma
Eczema

Related articles can be found here:

Asthma and Wheezing Burden Underestimated
Breathing Techniques Helps Reduce Asthma Symptoms
Eat Your Fruit and Vegetables for Asthma Prevention
Food Allergies May Trigger Life Threatening Asthma Attacks
Mediterranean Diet May Protect Against Childhood Asthma Like Symptoms and Rhinitis
More Dirt Could Mean Less Asthma: Survey

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

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