Skip to content

    Asthma Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Link Between Early Antibiotic Use & Asthma Probed

    Infants given these meds may have both poor immunity and genetic risk for asthma, findings suggest

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By Randy Dotinga

    HealthDay Reporter

    THURSDAY, May 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Children treated with antibiotics in their first year of life may face more than twice the risk of developing asthma later in life.

    However, the drugs themselves may not be at fault, researchers note.

    Instead, scientists believe that an impaired immune system and genetic variations could explain why these kids face a higher likelihood of developing asthma.

    The study, reported online May 15 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, also didn't find any link between early use of antibiotics and development of allergic diseases. This rebuts a theory that antibiotics boost the risk of allergic asthma by disrupting the development of a child's immune system, the study authors noted.

    Antibiotics are used to treat a variety of ear and respiratory infections in kids. Researchers have been trying to figure out whether the antibiotic use has a connection to asthma rates. While the study found an association, it was not designed to prove a cause-and-effect link.

    In the new study, British researchers analyzed statistics from a study that tracked more than 1,000 children from birth to 11 years of age.

    "We speculate that hidden factors which increase the likelihood of both antibiotic prescription in early life and subsequent asthma are an increased susceptibility to viral infections due to impaired antiviral immunity and genetic variants," lead author Adnan Custovic, of the University of Manchester, said in a journal news release.

    "However, further studies will be needed to confirm that the impaired immunity was present at the time of the early childhood respiratory symptoms and predated antibiotic prescribing rather than as a consequence of the antibiotics," Custovic added.

    When Is Your Asthma Worse?

    When Is Your Asthma Worse?

    Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

    Start Now

    Today on WebMD

    Lung and bronchial tube graphic
    5 common triggers.
    group jogging in park
    Should you avoid fitness activities?
     
    asthma inhaler
    Learn about your options.
    man feeling faint
    What’s the difference?
     
    Madison Wisconsin Capitol
    Slideshow
    woman wearing cpap mask
    Article
     
    red wine pouring into glass
    Slideshow
    Woman holding inhaler
    Quiz
     
    Man outdoors coughing
    Article
    Lung and bronchial tube graphic
    Article
     
    10 Worst Asthma Cities
    Slideshow
    runner
    Article