Antibiotics are often prescribed for the treatment or prevention of some common bacterial infections, but do not work for viral infections such as colds, flu and sore throat, the NHS says. Experts in the medical community have cautioned against the over-prescription of this medication among children as it increases their risk of getting diseases like asthma later in life.
According to a new study published recently in the journal Mucosal Immunology, early exposure to antibiotics can wipe out health gut bacteria leading to asthma. The research provides a strong evidence to support previous theories linking antibiotics to the development of asthma and allergies in adulthood, Science Daily reports.
In the UK, it is feared that the prescription of antibiotics in young children is at the highest level with scientists warning doctors to make it a last resort when possible.
Senior author and director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers, Martin Blaser said:
The practical implication is simple: Avoid antibiotic use in young children whenever you can because it may elevate the risk of significant, long-term problems with allergy and/or asthma.
Threat to gut health
The team of researchers from Rutgers, New York University and the University of Zurich established that antibiotics which are ‘among the most used medications in children’, impact gut health in children making them more susceptible to developing asthma and allergies when they are older.
Some 57,000 Brits are hospitalized each year with the illness while four people reportedly die every day from asthma attack, according to The Sun. Blaser summarized the significance of the research as:
These experiments provide strong evidence that antibiotics cause unwanted immune responses to develop via their effect on gut bacteria, but only if gut bacteria are altered in early childhood.