A new study has found a like between antibiotics prescribed to babies and allergies developed down the road. Researchers suspect the antibiotics may be having a negative effect on the microbiome, which is significant for a tiny human who has barely begun to grow. What we call the ‘microbiome’ are the millions of microorganisms that live inside our guts. They play a key role in our immune system and can be disrupted by antibiotics. The job of antibiotics is to kill bad bacteria causing an infection, which is a good thing. However, one side effect can be that they also kill the good bacteria, which is a bad thing. So, it’s possible that the changes in the microbiome in infancy could be what leads to allergies later in life.
Specific Types Of Antibiotics
An association with allergies was found with many classes of antibiotics among the wide range commonly prescribed to infants. However, cephalosporin, macrolide, penicillin, and sulfonamide were all linked to a higher risk of developing allergies later on. The highest risk was associated with penicillin, the lowest risk was associated with sulfonamides. Now, it’s important to note this is an association, not proof of the cause. If your child gets sick, this doesn’t mean to skip antibiotics. So there are no guarantees antibiotics will cause allergies, and antibiotics may be necessary to treat your child’s condition.
What Kind of Allergies Were Developed?
After analyzing nearly 8,000 medical records, researchers found that children were more at risk for food allergies, asthma, and dermatitis when given antibiotics within the first six months of life. They found up to a 47% increased risk for asthma, and an 8% increased risk for food allergy. But remember, this is a correlation and can not indicate causation. It’s entirely possible that babies who would go on to develop allergies later in life are more susceptible to bacterial infections in infancy. So, as always, only use antibiotics when they are necessary and as prescribed. Only use them for bacterial infections that require antibiotics for treatment.