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Antibiotics and Asthma:  Is There A Link?

Antibiotics given to a child during their first year of life is linked to a 400% greater risk of developing asthma.

Children suffering from asthma are at epidemic proportions.  Research indicates that over 3 million children suffer an asthma attack each year.  Watch any TV program and it's likely you'll see an ad for a drug for asthma.  The question we should ask is why?

What's the explanation for this disturbing trend?  The answer may be just as disturbing.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy examined the potential for antibiotic use in childhood to contribute to the development of asthma.  A survey mailed to the parents of 612 grade-school students (5-10 years old) asked questions about antibiotic use and history of asthma in their children.

Results showed that children given antibiotics in their first year of life were over four times more likely to develop asthma symptoms than children who had never taken antibiotics.  This increased risk was evident even after the researchers accounted for potential variables such as gender, ethnicity, family size, family history of asthma and parents' smoking habits.

Reference:  Wickens K, Pearce N, Crane J, et al.  Antibiotic use in early childhood and the development of asthma.  Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 1999:  Vol 29, pp766-71.

If asthma is linked to antibiotics, then it's just another of the many risk factors associated with antibiotic use.  As a parent, you may want to think twice before giving antibiotics to your children, especially if they're not specifically required.  Always find out why your doctor is prescribing a particular medication, and ask if there are acceptable non-pharmacological alternatives available.  Remember, there are other ways to aid the immune system.

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