New research from the University of South Carolina shows that antibiotics given to children in their first year of life increases their chances of developing food allergies.
The researchers looked at Medicaid data for about 1,500 children with food allergies and 6,000 without any from 2007-09 and concluded that those who had been prescribed the drugs in their first year were 1.21 times more likely to have a food allergy.
The chances increased with the number of prescriptions given, with those getting five or more prescriptions having a 1.64 times greater risk of food allergy, according to the researchers.
And children given stronger antibiotics had an even greater risk, according to the study published in the journal “Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology.”
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The study advances earlier research which found that bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract help the body tolerate foreign proteins such as food. Antibiotics, which American children get on average twice a year, can kill that bacteria, the researchers said. Thus, high antibiotic use could be responsible for the increase in childhood food allergies, which now affect 4 percent to 8 percent of children.
Lead researcher Bryan Love, a clinical associate professor at USC’s College of Pharmacy, said health care providers should be cautious about prescribing antibiotics for young children.
“We need better diagnostic tools to help identify kids who truly need antibiotics,” he said. “Overusing antibiotics invites more opportunity for side effects, including the potential development of food allergies, and can encourage antibacterial resistance.”
To read the full report, go to https://aacijournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13223-016-0148-7.