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A link between infant antibiotic use and adult diseases16 Jun 2015
One of the major issues that we will have to deal with in the near future is the lack of effective antibiotics. The generous use, or abuse, of antibiotics that has been made for at least 4 decades, has been as a strong selection pressure on bacteria. This pressure resulted in increasing numbers of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. This is a matter our hospitals already have to face today.
A recent study led by researchers at the University of Minnesota shows that antibiotic abuse may also have other unexpected negative consequences. In the paper "Antibiotics, Pediatric Dysbiosis, and Disease" that was recently published in the scientific journal Cell Host & Microbe, researchers found an association between antibiotic use in infants, modifications of the gut bacteria, and disease in adults. Dysbiosis, the imbalance of gut bacteria, has been linked to diseases in adult life such as infections, autoimmune disorders among which allergies, and even obesity.

Antibiotics are the most common prescription drugs given to children and account for about 25% of all prescribed infant medications. 30% of these prescriptions are considered gratuitous.

The authors of the paper analyzed how antibiotics may be acting in the gut to cause disease later in life. One hypothesis is that the use of antibiotics may eradicate key gut bacteria that help immune cells mature. These cells are essential for keeping the immune system at bay when confronted with pathogens, allergens, etc. In the case of obesity, antibiotic-induced dysbiosis results in increased levels of short-chain fatty acids that affect metabolism.

Although in the future the world's population will be faced with the lack of effective antibiotics, putting pressure on pharmaceutical companies to develop new antibiotics is only part of the solution. In fact, if these new antibiotics will again be generously prescribed, then we will only see a perpetuation of a vicious cycle but no solution to the problem.



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