Antibiotic use can increase asthma risk

April 20, 2013

The use of antibiotics in medicine and in agriculture has risen at an alarming rate over the last several decades.  As a result, many bacteria are becoming resistant to these types of drugs resulting in "super bugs" like MRSA and VRE.  Many are given antibiotics as a preventative or as a "just in case" at the first signs of a potential infection.  There have been many negative side effects of this type of practice.  The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study in 2010 looking at the relationship between children given antibiotics before the age of 6 months and the risk of developing asthma.  Of the 1,401 children followed, one-third had been exposed to antibiotics by 6 months of age.    

·         One course of antibiotic exposure increased the risk of asthma by 40%.

·         Two or more courses of antibiotic exposure increased the risk of asthma by 72%.

·         The increased risk for asthma in children who had no parental history of asthma was         89%.

·         If one parent had a history of asthma the increased risk of asthma was 140%

       compared with children with no history of parental asthma. If both parents had a

       history of asthma the increased risk was 257%.

The flora that lives in our gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in the development of our immune system with some researches estimating 50-70% of our immune system residing there.  Antibiotics can severely alter the balance of the different species of organisms and disrupt the function of the immune system.  Having a healthy ecosystem with the right types and numbers of organisms in our GI tract greatly influences our overall health.


Antibiotic Exposure by 6 Months and Asthma and Allergy at 6 Years: Findings in a Cohort of 1,401 US Children.

American Journal of Epidemiology;December 29, 2010; Vol. 173, No. 3; pp. 310-318

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