Are Antibiotics Causing Asthma?

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First it was heartburn medication. Then it was vaccines. Now it's antibiotics in the latest episode of cure-turned-bugbear. Researchers from the Yale recently found that the use of antibiotics seemed to increase the rate of asthma among infants. Scientists have been wondering why national asthma rates in children have been on the rise amidst decreased levels of both pollution and parental smoking, two important factors in development of asthma. The Yale study found that newborns treated with antibiotics in the first six months of their lives were more than 52 percent more likely to develop asthma and allergies by the age of 6 than babies that were not.

"The study should make parents and health care providers of all children think twice before using antibiotics with infants," says an editorial in the Boston Globe. "There already were good reasons not to prescribe antibiotics. Often, they don't work; many common ailments are caused by viruses, which aren’t affected by antibiotics. (Doctors may prescribe antibiotics anyway, just in case.) Moreover, the overuse of these drugs--in patients young or old--can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria."

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It's not been a good day for antibiotics. Laura Roberts at the Telegraph reports that children given antibiotics before the age of three or four were almost two times as likely to develop issues like Crohn's disease or irritable bowel syndrome later on. The risk increased by 12 percent for every time an antibiotic was prescribed.

Thomas H. Maugh II at the Los Angeles Times reported on a study that documented the risks associated with taking antibiotics and blood pressure medication at the same time. Thankfully, Chicken noodle soup and orange juice haven't yet been implicated in any major studies.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.