Antibiotics can affect a child’s early development and can potentially cause unwanted long-term effects, says a recent study.
Researchers from the NYU Langone Medical Center used very young mice to study the effects of antibiotics during early development. Disruption of gut bacteria, weight gain and odd bone growth were the results. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
The scientists used two widely prescribed childhood antibiotics for the study: amoxicillin and macrolides (erythromycin). Some mice received amoxicillin, some tylosin, some a mix of both and a controlled group was given no drugs at all. They were administered 10 to 15 days after birth, then again 27 days later and finally after day 39. Four months later, they were studied.
Results showed that the mice that took antibiotics had a less diverse bacteria group in their gut compared to the mice that didn’t receive any drugs.
“There are really long-term, probably permanent effects on the microbiome from antibiotics,” said senior author Dr. Martin Blaser, professor of medicine and microbiology. “We showed changes in the richness and the community structure, and also the genes present in the bacteria.” Gut bacteria communities, or microbiome, help break down food that the gut cannot, according to Laparoscopic.md. Many scientists have studied the importance of a diverse gut microbiome to a person’s health, especially because of its involvement in the synthesis of vitamins.
Mice given macrolides had the least diverse gut microbiome, while amoxicillin led to abnormally large bones. A less diverse gut microbiome will lead to unwanted weight gain which could carry unto adulthood and cause obesity, said the study.
“If what we found in mice is true for human children, then this is yet another reason to be cautious in using antibiotics, said Blaser.
“We know there are kids who are severely ill who must have antibiotics. But there is a larger number of kids who are only mildly ill. The question is, what proportion of them really need antibiotics?” he added.
Sources: June 30, 2015. "How This Common Drug Can Have Lasting Effects on Kids". time.com June 30, 2015. "Repeated courses of antibiotics may profoundly alter children's development". sciencedaily.com July 1, 2015. "Child development may be affected by early antibiotic use, study finds". medicalnewstoday.com