Study: Antibiotic use in babies linked to ongoing illnesses

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Conditions such as asthma and allergies were found to have been tied to antibiotic use in babies

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have recently published findings to a study in which they reviewed how much exposure to antibiotics in babies was associated with the risk of ongoing illnesses and conditions later in life.

The population-based cohort study, which was published Sunday in the journal “Mayo Clinic Proceedings,” used the Rochester Epidemiology Project medical records-linkage system to list every child born in Olmsted County, Minnesota, between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2011. That same system supported researchers in retrieving demographic characteristics, antibiotic prescriptions, and diagnostic codes through June 30, 2017.

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Seventy percent of the 14,572 children involved in the study received at least one antibiotic prescription in their first two years of life. Researchers discovered a link between a higher risk of childhood-onset asthma, allergies, eczema, celiac disease, overweight, obesity, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD.

“Among children who received one or two prescriptions, only girls were at significantly higher risk to develop asthma and celiac disease compared to those unexposed,” the researchers wrote according to CNN. “By contrast, receiving three to four prescriptions was associated with a higher incidence of asthma, atopic dermatitis, and overweight in both sexes, ADHD and celiac disease in girls, and obesity in boys.”

The number, type and timing of exposure to antibiotics influenced the associations. Additionally, researchers found a higher likelihood of having combinations of conditions especially when multiple prescriptions were provided.

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“We want to emphasize that this study shows association, not causation, of these conditions,” lead study author Nathan LeBrasseur, a researcher at Mayo Clinic’s Center on Aging, told CNN.

“These findings offer the opportunity to target future research to determine more reliable and safer approaches to timing, dosing and types of antibiotics for children in this age group.”

The study follows another one initially published in August that showed improper prescription of antibiotics at urgent care clinics. The study found individuals and their spouses were influenced to seek more antibiotics after previously being prescribed them to treat viral infections.

Antibiotics are used to prevent or treat some bacterial infections, however, and will not work for viral infections.

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