reducing antibiotic use in infancy reduces risk of asthma

Asthma is on the attack. At least 8% of kids in the U.S. and Canada suffer from it. The number of people suffering from asthma is exploding. In some parts of North America, the number of children struggling with asthma is four times higher than a quarter century ago. Overall, in the U.S. and U.K. the numbers doubled from 1955 to 2000. Then the numbers in Canada, the U.K. and parts of the U.S. started to go down. Why?

A just published Canadian study has found that an important reason is the holding back of unnecessary antibiotics in infancy.

 

The medical community should have known for a long time that early childhood exposure to antibiotics increased the risk of asthma. Almost a quarter of a century ago, researchers had already shown that giving children antibiotics before they were two increased the risk (Thorax 1998;53:927-32). A survey of 456 children conducted one year later again found that antibiotics significantly increased the risk, especially when they were given in the first year (Clin Exp Allergy 1999;29:766-71). At least two systematic reviews published in 2011 established that getting one or more courses of antibiotics before a child is one is associated with a 27%-52% increase in risk of asthma (Pediatrics 2011;127:1125-1138; Eur Respir J 2011;38:295-302).

Several lines of evidence point to the role of healthy community of microorganisms in the gut. Things that cause dysbiosis in gut also seem to cause asthma. Caesarean sections, not breast feeding and receiving antibiotics in infancy all cause dysbiosis, and they all cause asthma.

The important new Canadian study analyzed the association between giving antibiotics to children in the first year of life and their rates of asthma when they were between one and four years old. They found that asthma rates dropped by 7.1 cases per 1000 children and that that drop corresponded with a significant reduction in antibiotic use in infants in the first year of life.

The analysis revealed that incidence of childhood asthma spiked by a significant 24% with each 10% increase in the prescription of antibiotics.

Giving antibiotics to infants increases rates of asthma in children by the time they are five. When children are not given antibiotics in infancy, they have a 5.2% chance of having asthma by the time they are five. When they receive just one course of antibiotics, their chance of getting asthma climbs to 8.1%. Two courses of infant antibiotics increases the risk to 10.2%, and three or more courses surges it to 17.6%.

The researchers make the remarkable conclusion that “the shortest path to reducing asthma-related morbidity is by avoiding dysbiosis induced by unnecessary antibiotic therapy.”


Lancet Respir Med 2020;doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30052-7


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The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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