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Infant antibiotic use may have implications for allergies, asthma and obesity - study

A new Irish study has shown that antibiotic use can reduce the number of bacteria in the intestines of children.

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THE ADMINISTERING OF antibiotics to infants could cause “collateral damage”, according to a new Irish study.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, the head of Teagasc Food Research, Dr Paul Ross, said that a recent study had shown the amount of bacteria in the intestines of children who had taken antibiotics had been reduced “even eight weeks afterwards”.

Roughly 90 per cent of the 10 trillion cells in the human body are bacteria, which are located in the intestine. While largely beneficial, the use of antibiotics can forever alter this bacteria.

While aware of the good that antibiotics do, Ross believes that “research has shown that they should only be used for babies showing symptoms of infection.”

“We’re not saying that antibiotics aren’t very important for you, what we’re saying is that more research is needed to show what the long-term effects of taking antibiotics are, especially at such an essential time in life,” he said.

Pointing to the fact that the microbiota found in the intestines of obese people are different to that in people who are not overweight, Ross said that this could have implications in how energy was harvested from food within the body.

If you change this bacteria in your intestine at a very early time in life, then this may have implications for things like allergies, asthma, obesity, and some illnesses later on.
If you treat infants with antibiotics, you alter that microbiota in a fairly dramatic way and what we’re saying is, we don’t know the long-term implications of doing that.

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The study was carried out by the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in University College Cork, along with Cork University Maternity Hospital and Teagasc.

Read: One in 20 patients has hospital acquired infection >

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Paul Hyland

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