Antibiotics may not raise asthma risk

By: |
New York | December 13, 2014 10:21 AM

Earlier studies have suggested that antibiotic use in pregnancy and childhood may increase the risk for asthma.

Studies have suggested that antibiotic use in pregnancy and childhood may increase the risk for asthma, but a large Swedish study has found strong evidence that there is no such connection.

Researchers followed 493,785 children, including 180,894 siblings, from the start of their mothers’ pregnancies to school age. More than 20 per cent had been exposed to antibiotics in utero and 62 per cent during childhood. Over all, 6 per cent had asthma. The study initially found an apparent link between antibiotic use and later asthma, but the association disappeared when researchers looked at siblings.

They found no difference in asthma development between siblings who had taken antibiotics and those who had not, suggesting that other environmental or genetic factors are at work. Asthma, they write, may be misdiagnosed as a respiratory disease and then treated with antibiotics.

When asthma later appears, the antibiotics are incorrectly identified as the cause. Researchers also found no association between asthma and antibiotics given for urinary tract or skin infections.

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