Antibiotic Exposure and Risk of Allergies and Asthma
By Sarah Axtell, ND • December 27, 2016
This study showed that early antibiotic use (by 6 months of age) was associated with asthma and allergies at the age of 6 years.
To me, this makes sense. By eradicating all of the normal flora (“good bugs”) in the gut, the body is more susceptible to immune dysregulation. Much of our immune system is comprised in our gut. Its the normal flora that strengthens our immune system and has a long-lasting effect on our health. Infants first come in contact with the mom’s normal flora in the birthing canal. This is a major advantage of a vaginal birth. It is then recommended that infants start a probiotic supplement from day one and onward to promote healthy immunity.
Other factors that promote healthy immunity are breastfeeding and a strategic ‘introduction to solid food’ schedule. It is inevitable that kids get sick though. And when it does happen it is crucial parents and doctors do not jump to antibiotics. There is, of course, a time and a place for antibiotics. But overall, they tend to be over- and misused. As evidenced by this article, antibiotics can lead to chronic health conditions in childhood and adulthood.
Here is the abstract of the article published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2010:
Many studies have reported that antibiotic use may be associated with increased risk of childhood asthma. Respiratory tract infections in small children may be difficult to distinguish from early symptoms of asthma, and studies may have been confounded by “protopathic” bias, where antibiotics are used to treat early symptoms of asthma. These analyses of a cohort including 1,401 US children assess the association between antibiotic use within the first 6 months of life and asthma and allergy at 6 years of age between 2003 and 2007. Antibiotic exposure was associated with increased risk of asthma (adjusted odds ratio = 1.52, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.07, 2.16). The odds ratio if asthma was first diagnosed after 3 years of age was 1.66 (95% CI: 0.99, 2.79) and, in children with no history of lower respiratory infection in the first year of life, the odds ratio was 1.66 (95% CI: 1.12, 3.46). The adverse effect of antibiotics was particularly strong in children with no family history of asthma (odds ratio = 1.89, 95% CI: 1.00, 3.58) (Pinteraction = 0.03). The odds ratio for a positive allergy blood or skin test was 1.59 (95% CI: 1.10, 2.28). The results show that early antibiotic use was associated with asthma and allergy at 6 years of age, and that protopathic bias was unlikely to account for the main findings.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.