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May 13, 2015 08:00 PM EDT

Antibiotic Use In Infants Could Lead To Allergies, Autoimmune Disorders Later In Life

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New research suggests that an infant antibiotic could be linked to infectious diseases and allergies later in life.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota spotted a three-way link among antibiotic use in infants, changes in the gut bacteria, and disease later in life. The imbalances in gut microbes, called dysbiosis, have been tied to infectious diseases, allergies and other autoimmune disorders, and even obesity, later in life, UPI reported.

"Diseases related to metabolism and the immune system are increasing dramatically, and in many cases we don't know why," Dan Knights, senior author of the study, said in a statement. "Previous studies showed links between antibiotic use and unbalanced gut bacteria, and others showed links between unbalanced gut bacteria and adult disease. Over the past year we synthesized hundreds of studies and found evidence of strong correlations between antibiotic use, changes in gut bacteria, and disease in adulthood."

Antibiotics are the most common prescription drugs given to children, as they account for about one-fourth of all medications prescribed to children. A third of these prescriptions are considered unnecessary, according to researchers.

"We think these findings help develop a roadmap for future research to determine the health consequences of antibiotic use and for recommendations for prescribing them," Knights said. "The clinical test we demonstrated would also allow us to think about interventions at an early age."

The findings are detailed in the journal Cell Host & Microbe. 

New research suggests that an infant antibiotic could be linked to infectious diseases and allergies later in life.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota spotted a three-way link among antibiotic use in infants, changes in the gut bacteria, and disease later in life. The imbalances in gut microbes, called dysbiosis, have been tied to infectious diseases, allergies and other autoimmune disorders, and even obesity, later in life, UPI reported.

"Diseases related to metabolism and the immune system are increasing dramatically, and in many cases we don't know why," Dan Knights, senior author of the study, said in a statement. "Previous studies showed links between antibiotic use and unbalanced gut bacteria, and others showed links between unbalanced gut bacteria and adult disease. Over the past year we synthesized hundreds of studies and found evidence of strong correlations between antibiotic use, changes in gut bacteria, and disease in adulthood."

Antibiotics are the most common prescription drugs given to children, as they account for about one-fourth of all medications prescribed to children. A third of these prescriptions are considered unnecessary, according to researchers.

"We think these findings help develop a roadmap for future research to determine the health consequences of antibiotic use and for recommendations for prescribing them," Knights said. "The clinical test we demonstrated would also allow us to think about interventions at an early age."

The findings are detailed in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

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