Early Exposure to Antibiotics is Related to Increased Risk of Allergies Later in Life

Research presented at this year's European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress in London, UK shows that exposure to antibiotics early in life is related to increased risk of developing allergies later in life. The research is by Dr. Fariba Ahmadizar of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and colleagues.

Some previous research has suggested that early life exposure to antibiotics is associated with an increased risk of developing allergies later in life, but results are inconsistent. In this new research, PubMed and Web of Science databases were searched for observational studies published from January 1966 through Nov. 11, 2015. Studies were included that assessed the association between antibiotic consumption during the first two years of life and the risk of eczema or hay fever later in life.

A total of 22 studies (including 394,517 patients) were selected 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 percent to 41 percent depending on the type of study analyzed. Use of antibiotics in early life also increased the risk of hay fever in later life by 14 percent to 56 percent again dependent on the type of study analyzed.

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 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.

Ahmadizar concludes, "Early life exposure to antibiotics is related to an increased risk of both eczema and hay fever later in life."

Source: European Lung Foundation

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