Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in the United States have found that antibiotics administered to children younger than 2 are associated with several ongoing illnesses or conditions, ranging from allergies to obesity.
In their work, physicians used medical history data obtained in the framework of the “Epidemiology of Rochester” project. At that time, data from more than 14,500 children were collected.
About 70% of children have received at least one course of antibiotic treatment for illnesses before 2 years of age. Children who have received multiple courses of antibiotic treatment are more likely to develop multiple illnesses or conditions in later childhood.
The types and frequency of illness varied with age, type of medication, dose, and number of doses. There were also some differences between boys and girls. Conditions associated with early antibiotic use included asthma, allergic rhinitis, weight problems and obesity, food allergies, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and atopic dermatitis.
The authors speculate that while antibiotics can only temporarily affect the microbiome, the accumulation of microbes in the body, it can have long-term health effects.
“We want to emphasize that this study demonstrates a relationship, not a causal relationship, between these conditions. These results provide an opportunity to target future research to identify safer and more reliable approaches to timing, dosage and types of antibiotics for children in this age group”, — says Nathan LeBrasseur, Ph.D., a researcher at Mayo Clinic's Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and the study's senior author.
The researchers also say the ultimate goal is to provide doctors with practical advice on the safest way to use antibiotics at an early age.