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:
Eczema Shield Powder
Food Sensativity Test Kit
Hi Strength Fish Oil for Kids
Inner Health Plus for Kids
Primadophilus for Child
Vitamin and Mineral Boost Powder
Related health information can be found here:
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