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Antibiotic link to skin disease

Friday June 21st, 2013

Children treated with antibiotics early in life face a massively increased risk of developing the skin condition eczema, British researchers have reported.

The find is the latest to support the "hygiene hypothesis" that allergic conditions are aggravated or triggered through children not being exposed to bacteria early in life.

Researchers found that early antibiotics could increase the risk of developing eczema by as much as 40%.

The skin condition can affect as many as 20% of people during childhood.

The research, reported in the British Journal of Dermatology, was conducted by a team from Nottingham University, Guy's and St Thomas' in London, King's College in London and Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

They examined a total of 20 earlier studies on the topic.

Researcher Dr Teresa Tsakok, of Guy's and St Thomas', said: "One potential explanation is that broad-spectrum antibiotics alter the gut microflora and that this in turn affects the maturing immune system in a way that promotes allergic disease development."

Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists said: "Allergic diseases including eczema have increased over past decades, particularly for children in high income countries, but the causes for this are not fully understood.

"The evidence is not conclusive and the researchers are not suggesting that parents should withhold antibiotics from children when doctors feel such treatment is necessary, but studies like this give an insight into possible avoidable causes and may help to guide medical practice."

Does early life exposure to antibiotics increase the risk of eczema? A systematic review. British Journal of Dermatology 24 June 2013

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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