Using Antibiotics Increases Kids’ Asthma Risk, Study Finds
One or two courses of antibiotics in children ages one and younger can increase their risk for asthma, and additional courses can further increase their risk, according to a study published in the June issue of the journal Chest, the New York Times reports.
For the study, researchers led by Anita Kozyrskyi, an associate professor at the University of Manitoba, examined medical records to track the medications taken by 13,116 Canadian children.
Researchers determined whether children had asthma based on treatment and medications taken during the year after their seventh birthday.
After adjustments for respiratory and other illnesses, sex and maternal history of asthma, the researchers found that participants who received one or two courses of antibiotics at ages one and younger had a 20% increased risk for asthma. Participants who received three or four courses of antibiotics at ages one and younger had a 30% increased risk for asthma, and those who received more than four courses had a 50% increased risk, the study found.
In addition, the study found that broad-spectrum antibiotics had more of an effect than narrow-spectrum antibiotics and that antibiotics had more of an effect on children at lower risk for asthma than those at higher risk.
Kozyrskyi said that the results of the study support the microflora hypothesis -- that "you need good bacteria in your digestive tract for normal development of the immune system so that you don't end up with asthma."
According to researchers, although the results do not prove that antibiotics cause asthma, they indicate that physicians should first prescribe narrow-spectrum antibiotics in children ages one and younger (Bakalar, New York Times, 6/19). An abstract of the study is available online.