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Childhood ‘Antibiotic’ use linked to Adult ‘Asthma’ 2006-03-15

Posted by clype in Health, Statistics.
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A Canadian study of 12 082 children suggests those treated with 'antibiotics' under the age of one are twice as likely to develop 'asthma' in childhood. And researchers writing in US American journal 'Chest' found additional courses of 'antibiotics' in the first year of life increased 'asthma' risk still further.

Earlier studies suggested the drugs may affect the way the immune system works. Experts believe they kill-off beneficial bacteria in the intestine — and that this may lead to changes in the way the body deals with disease. Lead study author Mr.Carlo Marra, of 'The University of British Columbia', Vancouver, said:

 

'"Antibiotic" use in children has been found to coincide with an increased incidence of childhood "asthma".

'Although the causal nature between "antibiotics" and "asthma" is still unclear — our overall results show that treatment with at least one "antibiotic" as an infant appears to be associated with the development of childhood "asthma".'

The Canadian team reviewed seven studies comparing exposure to at least one 'antibiotic' to no exposure in the first year of life. This analysis looked at 12 082 children and found 1 817 asthma cases were reported. Overall, infants who were exposed to at least one 'antibiotic' were twice as likely as unexposed infants to develop asthma during childhood. The team also analysed data from five studies including 27 167 children looking at 'antibiotic' doses. It found that for each extra course of 'antibiotics' during the first year of life a child was 1.16 times more likely to develop asthma. Co-author Mr.Fawziah Marra said that, although 'antibiotics' were commonly used to treat ear and respiratory infections and 'bronchitis', not every childhood infection needed 'antibiotics'. He said:

'Current guidelines recommend that children under age two receive an "antibiotic" for diagnosed ear infection.

'However, the majority of upper respiratory tract infections and "bronchitis" are viral, for which "antibiotics" are ineffective.'

Mr.Michael Alberts, president of 'The American College of Chest Physicians', pointed out that 'asthma' was one of the most common chronic childhood diseases and affected millions of children in the USA. He added:

'By identifying potential risk factors for "asthma" and educating patients and families about risk factors, we may begin to see a reduction in the overall incidence of "asthma".'

Ms.Lyn Smurthwaite MD, research development manager at 'Asthma UK', welcomed the research into antibiotic use as a potential risk factor.

'Identifying events in early childhood that influence "asthma" development is a difficult task.

'The study shows that taking antibiotics in infancy may increase a child's risk of developing "asthma" and highlights that "antibiotics" should always be prescribed and taken responsibly,' she added.

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