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Pregnancy antibiotics link to wheeze

Thursday December 3rd, 2015

Taking antibiotics in the third trimester of pregnancy may contribute to childhood wheeze, according to an Italian study.

The research, reported in the European Respiratory Journal, involved some 3,500 women.

The researchers say the link remained even after allowing for confounding factors such as the mother smoking or a history of asthma.

They say it is possible that antibiotic use in late pregnancy affects the baby's immune system development.

The research eliminated any link between childhood wheeze and the mother taking antibiotics in the first trimester.

Researcher Dr Maja Popovic, from the University of Turin, said: "Our results show that an increased risk of infant wheeze is linked with antibiotic use during pregnancy but it can largely be explained by confounding factors, in particular maternal infections during pregnancy.

"However, even the large number of confounding factors considered in our study could not explain the risk of recurrent wheezing when mothers took antibiotics during their third trimester. This is important as recurrent wheezing is a more severe condition that often predicts later unfavourable respiratory outcomes.

"There is some evidence to suggest that taking antibiotics at this stage alters the composition of the mother's bacteria, which when transmitted to the new-born may modify the immune system development and explain the increased susceptibility to infections and wheeze."

She added: "As we identified that this risk still exists at this late stage of pregnancy, we would suggest that more research is needed to understand this association and clarify the underlying mechanism so that practical public health interventions could be developed in order to minimise unnecessary antibiotic exposures during pregnancy."

Prenatal exposure to antibiotics and wheezing in infancy: a birth cohort study European Respiratory Journal 3 December 2015; doi: 10.1183/13993003.00315-2015

Tags: Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Pharmaceuticals | Respiratory | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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