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Antibiotics and Asthma

April 9, 2012

Taking antibiotics early in life can lead to asthma, according to a study in mice.



Antibiotics and asthma.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Kids who take antibiotics before the age of one are more likely to develop asthma.  A new study in mice at the University of British Columbia suggests that’s no coincidence.  Microbiologist Brett Finlay and his colleagues gave the mice one of two antibiotics: vancomycin or streptomycin.

BRETT FINLAY (University of British Columbia):

Andhat we found is that vancomycin, but not streptomycin, caused a profound increase in the amount of asthma in these animals. And what also was really interesting is that it only worked if you gave the antibiotics to these mice when they’re really young, basically right after birth.

Finlay says that the two drugs kill different types of gut bacteria, some of which may protect us from asthma as the immune system develops.  It’s part of a growing awareness that the bacteria in our bodies play a key role in keeping us healthy.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Antibiotic use in babies has been linked to an increased risk of asthma. (Jupiter Images)