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In a retrospective case study, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that antibiotics given to children under the age of 2 are linked to several persistent illnesses or conditions, ranging from allergies to obesity. The results appear in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Using health data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a population-based research collaboration in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the researchers analyzed data from over 14,500 children. About 70% of the children had received at least one antibiotic treatment for illness before the age of 2. Children who received multiple antibiotic treatments were more likely to have multiple diseases or conditions later in childhood.

The type and frequency of the disease varied depending on 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, celiac disease, and atopic dermatitis. The authors speculate that while antibiotics only temporarily affect the microbiome, the accumulation of microbes in the body, this can have long-term health consequences.

“We want to emphasize that this study shows an association – not a cause – of these conditions,” says Nathan LeBrasseur, Ph.D., researcher at the Mayo Clinic’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and lead author on the study. “These results provide an opportunity to target future research to identify more reliable and safer approaches to timing, dosage, and types of antibiotics for children in this age group.”

While recent data shows that some of the childhood conditions involved in the study are on the rise, experts aren’t sure why. Aside from the issue of multi-resistance, antibiotics have been considered safe by most pediatricians.

Researchers also say the ultimate goal is to give doctors practical guidelines on the safest way to use antibiotics early in life.

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Quote: Study shows antibiotics before age 2 in connection with health problems in children (2020, November 16), accessed on November 16, 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-11-antibiotics-age-childhood- health-issues.html

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