August 01, 2022
Early exposure to antibiotics kills healthy bacteria in the digestive tract and can cause asthma and allergies as per a new study conduced on mice. The study, published in ‘Mucosal Immunology’, has provided the strongest evidence, so far, that the long-observed connection between antibiotic exposure in early childhood and later development of asthma and allergies is causal.
Martin Blaser, director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers University in the US 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.”
In the study, the researchers from Rutgers, New York University and the University of Zurich, noted that antibiotics, “among the most used medications in children, affect gut microbiome communities and metabolic functions. These changes in microbiota structure can impact host immunity.”
In the first part of the experiment, five-day-old mice received water, azithromycin or amoxicillin. After the mice matured, researchers exposed them to a common allergen derived from house dust mites. Mice that had received either of the antibiotics, especially azithromycin, exhibited elevated rates of immune responses — i.e., allergies.
The second and third parts of the experiment tested the hypothesis that early exposure to antibiotics (but not later exposure) causes allergies and asthma by killing some healthy gut bacteria that support proper immune system development.
Lead author Timothy Borbet first transferred bacteria-rich faecal samples from the first set of mice to a second set of adult mice with no previous exposure to any bacteria or germs. Some received samples from mice given azithromycin or amoxicillin in infancy. Others received normal samples from mice that had received water.
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