Antibiotics Linked to Asthma in Children

An emerging study, released by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and published online in Pediatrics, reveals that babies treated with <"">antibiotics during their first year might be at an increased risks for developing asthma by the time they turn 18, said WebMD. A similar risk was also seen in children whose mothers took antibiotics when pregnant.

The team looked at research from 22 earlier studies published from 1950 through July 1, 2010; two studies looked at antibiotic exposure in pregnant women, 19 at exposure during the first 12 months of life, and one, at exposure during both periods, said WebMD. Other studies have revealed that babies receiving antibiotics experience increases asthma risks by age 7, with the risk increasing with every course of antibiotic treatment received before age 1, said WebMD. Nine million children—under age 18—have been diagnosed with asthma in the United States, according to American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology figures, said WebMD.

This review looked at a larger number of studies and participants—some 600,000—and grouped the studies reviewed by “design type (database, retrospective, or prospective)” to understand those variables on results, said WebMD. When grouped together, it seemed that infants treated with antibiotics in their first year of life experienced a 50 percent increase in being diagnosed with asthma versus babies never treated with the drugs. When variables were considered, such as adjustments for respiratory infections, the increase dropped to 13 percent, noted WebMD. A different review found that children of women who took the drugs during pregnancy experienced a 25 percent increased likelihood of developing asthma versus children whose mothers did not take the medications, WebMD added.

We previously wrote that a large study on the effects of antibiotics used during pregnancy and birth defects, the first of its kind to review the use of antibiotics during pregnancy, found a link between medications for urinary tract infections and an increased risk for babies being born with birth defects. That study appeared in the of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

We have often warned about the potential global ramifications connected to antibiotic misuse and overuse. Drug resistance—specifically antibiotic resistance—has become more than just worrisome. Antibiotic drug resistance implications are dangerous, deadly, and here. Misuse of these vital and potent medications are mitigating the worldwide war against infections diseases and rendering existing antibiotics useless, according to a warning issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Antibiotics overuse and misuse cause bacteria mutate, changing just enough to ensure drugs have no effect on them and allowing them a wide berth to spread with increasing power. Although tempting, preventative antibiotic regimes only worsen the epidemic, strengthening the bacteria. New drugs are not immune because, as new drugs surface, it’s a matter of time before super bugs become resistant to them, too. Tuberculosis, which should have been obliterated years ago; malaria, which is now strain resistant; gonorrhea, which is experiencing growing strain resistance; and hospital-acquired superbugs are all increasing in ferocity, said WHO. Other antibiotic resistant superbugs include drug resistant MRSA, E. coli, and Salmonella, and the list is growing.

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