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Antibiotic Therapy Before Age 2 May Affect Child Health

Risk for childhood onset of health conditions increased for those with early-life antibiotic exposure

TUESDAY, Nov. 17, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Exposure to antibiotics in the first two years of life is associated with an increased risk for several health conditions during childhood, according to a study published online Nov. 15 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Zaira Aversa, M.D., Ph.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues conducted a population-based cohort study involving children born in Olmsted County, Minnesota, between Jan. 1, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2011, to examine the impact of antibiotic exposure in the first two years of life.

Data were included for 14,572 children (7,026 girls and 7,546 boys); during the first two years of life, 70 percent received at least one antibiotic prescription. The researchers identified associations between early antibiotic exposure and an increased risk for childhood-onset asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, celiac disease, overweight, obesity, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (hazard ratios ranging from 1.20 to 2.89). The number, type, and timing of antibiotic exposure influenced the associations. The probability of having combinations of conditions was higher for children exposed to antibiotics, especially when given multiple prescriptions.

“The findings from Olmsted County provide evidence for broad and delayed effects of early-life antibiotic exposures, and should change doctors’ practices in how often they prescribe antibiotics, especially for mild conditions,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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