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Frequent childhood antibiotics can affect development
Health experts have long warned of the consequences of excessive use of antibiotics in childhood. Apparently with good reason, because researchers at the New York University School of Medicine have now been able to confirm this assumption. Accordingly, studies with mice have shown that the agents e.g. could permanently change the intestinal flora, metabolism and development. Among other things, this was noticeable in the animals through an increase in bone growth and an increasing weight.
At least one prescription per child per year
Antibiotics have been among the most commonly prescribed drugs for many years. Due to the high susceptibility to infections, the frequency of prescription is particularly high among children and adolescents. Accordingly, nationwide, every child between three and six years receives an average of at least one antibiotic per year and thus significantly more than adults. But critics have long spoken out against the frequent use of the controversial drugs. Because too often these would also be used for viral infections, although antibiotics only work against bacteria.
Antibiotics have no effect on infections caused by viruses
Likewise, the mass use of antibiotics in animal fattening is repeatedly under discussion, by which both the development of resistance and the spread of bacteria with resistance is promoted. In addition, experts repeatedly point out known side effects when taking such as Gastrointestinal complaints, nausea and vomiting and diarrhea.
It is often assumed that even a short antibiotic therapy can change the intestinal flora in the long term, which in turn has an effect on the development of the body's defenses. Accordingly, experts see a connection here with the development of allergies or chronic inflammatory bowel diseases - with the frequency increasing especially in young children.
A study by the New York University School of Medicine has now shown that the frequent early use of the drug could have many disadvantages. Because, as the research team led by Martin Blaser reports in the journal "Nature Communications", a gift in early life could possibly have a lasting effect on the metabolism and development of children. According to the report, this was shown in studies of young mice, which temporarily gained weight and showed increased bone growth.
Researchers are studying the influence of two different agents
In the mouse study, the scientists had mapped the usual treatment of children with antibiotics. The broad spectrum antibiotic "Amoxicillin" and the agent "Tylosin" were used, which are currently not used in children. However, it is one of the representatives of the so-called "macrolides", which are similar in their activity spectrum to penicillin and are widely used in pediatrics. In accordance with the "real" antibiotic therapy, the animals received the active substances over a period of several days in a dose customary for the treatment. However, the researchers divided the mice into four groups, one of which received amoxicillin several times a day, another tylosin and the third alternating between the two active substances. The other animals were given no agent as a control group.
Tylosin mice gain more weight and lean mass
There was an interesting effect: While there was a significant increase in mass and lean mass overall in the tylosin mice, only the proportion of lean mass, which denotes body weight minus fat mass, increased in the amoxicillin animals. The tylosin would change the metabolism of the animals so strongly that fatty liver would occur more frequently than in the other mice, the scientists write. But that's not all: At the same time, the active ingredient tylosin had a greater impact on the intestinal flora than the broad-spectrum antibiotic, which means that the mice in the corresponding group reacted much later to a change in diet than the control group. The researchers were also able to show that antibiotics not only put the diversity of intestinal bacteria at risk, but also change the frequency of the individual strains.
Results are not fully transferable to humans
But the results from the mouse model could not be transferred to humans without restrictions. However, there are overlaps with other studies that have looked at the impact of antibiotics on children's health. Accordingly, linking the results could make a valuable contribution to future treatment.
“This study shows the major markers of disorder and recovery that can help provide therapeutic targets for restoration of the intestinal flora following antibiotic treatment,” the researchers continued.
Philipp Henneke, Head of the Section for Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Rheumatology at the Freiburg University Hospital, also sees limited transferability to small patients. Because despite the “enormous amount of data”, “life [.] Is wilder than an animal experiment”, the expert told the news agency “dpa”. Nevertheless, the results could possibly cause a rethink among many doctors: “Based on the currently applicable international guidelines, an estimated ten to 20 percent of healthy women are given antibiotics at birth. This prevents streptococcal infection. However, the study shows that this precaution can have long-lasting consequences for the children, ”warns Henneke. (No)