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Study: Infants given antibiotics face double the risk of asthma

Lesley McClurg / KQED
Black children have been found to have asthma more often than white children.

says childhood asthma rates have fallen because fewer unnecessary antibiotics are being prescribed to babies within the first year of life.

The study says infants who were given antibiotics face nearly double the risk of asthma by age five.

Researchers from B.C. Children's Hospital, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and the University of British Columbia found that every 10% increase in the prescribing of antibiotics was linked with a 24% jump in asthma rates.

"Our findings suggest that the reduction in the incidence of paediatric asthma observed in recent years might be an unexpected benefit of prudent antibiotic use during infancy, acting via preservation of the gut microbial community," the study concluded.

The study on the most common chronic childhood disease was published recently in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Dr. David Patrick is the first author of the study and director of research and medical epidemiology lead of the antimicrobial resistance program at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. He says antibiotics should be prescribed only for serious infections.

The findings involved analyzing the data of about 225,000 children up to age four in B.C., for every year between 2000 and 2015.

Patrick says this is the first time researchers have demonstrated a population-level effect anywhere in the world where a reduction in antibiotic use in babies appears to result in a drop in the asthma rate.


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