FCAAIA Notes: Here’s another one of those chicken and egg questions. Are children at risk for allergic disease more likely to require antibiotics (for ear infection, for instance) than those without great risk? Or, do the antibiotics increase the risk? Or both
Antibiotics (and other things) change the human microbiome (the bacteria that normally live in and on us). Alterations of the microbiome have been associated with numerous diseases (including allergies and asthma) over the last several years and is a major area of on-going research.
My vote on the chicken/egg question here? “Both.”
(Source: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/all.13332, https://doi.org/10.1111/all.13332, Nov. 18, 2017)
This study systematically reviewed and quantified the relationship between exposure to antibiotics during the first 2 years of life and the risk of allergies/atopies including hay fever, eczema, food allergy, positive skin prick testing (SPT), or elevated allergen‐specific serum/plasma immunoglobulin (Ig) E levels later in life. PubMed and Web of Science databases were searched for observational studies published from January 1966 through November 11, 2015. Overall pooled estimates of the odds ratios (ORs) were obtained using fixed or random‐effects models. Early‐life exposure to antibiotics appears to be related to an increased risk of allergic symptoms of hay fever, eczema, and food allergy later in life. The summary OR for the risk of hay fever (22 studies) was 1.23, 95% confidence interval (CI):1.13‐1.34; I2: 77.0%. The summary OR for the risk of eczema (22 studies) was 1.26, 95% CI: 1.15‐1.37; I2: 74.2%, and the summary OR for food allergy (3 studies) was 1.42, 95% CI: 1.08‐1.87; I2: 80.8%. However, no association was found for antibiotics exposure early in life and objective atopy measurements including positive SPT or elevated allergen‐specific serum/plasma IgE levels.
Follow the link above to read the full article.