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Early life exposure to antibiotics found to increase the risk of allergy

Analysis of almost 400,000 people shows that early life exposure to antibiotics is related to an increased risk of developing allergies later in life.

This research, presented yesterday by Dr Fariba Ahmadizar at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress in London, selected 22 studies (including 394,517 patients) to study the risk of eczema and 22 studies (including 256,609 patients) to study the risk of hay fever, with some of these being the same (12 studies including 64,638 patients) studies for both conditions. The increased risk of eczema due to early life use of antibiotics varied from 15% to 41% depending on the type of study analysed. Use of antibiotics in early life also increased the risk of hay fever in later life by 14% to 56%, again dependent on the type of study analysed.

Furthermore, the association was stronger if patients had been treated with two courses compared with one course of antibiotics both for eczema and for hay fever.

The authors suggest that the mechanism behind this effect is the immunomodulatory effect of antibiotics, and the disruption of the microorganisms (microbiome) in the gut caused by antibiotics which can lead to reduce immune responses.

Image courtesy: Public Domain Pictures/Flikr

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