A Danish study has suggested a link between the consumption of antibiotics during pregnancy, and an increased risk of asthma in children.
Hans Bisgaard, one of the study's authors and a Professor at the University of Copenhagen, told Business World Online that the study did not find antibiotics to be a direct cause of asthma, but a disrupter of the body's beneficial bacteria that strengthen the immune system.
"We speculate that mother's use of antibiotics changes the balance of natural bacteria, which is transmitted to the newborns, and that such unbalance bacteria in early life impact on the immune maturation in the newborn."
The Study revealed that children who were exposed to antibiotics were 17% more likely to be hospitalized for asthma, and 18% more likely to be given a prescription for asthma medication. Bisgaard's team also found that children of asthmatic mothers are at a higher risk of developing the condition. These children are also twice as likely to develop asthma if their mothers took antibiotics during the third trimester of pregnancy.
But this study isn't definitive, says Anita Kozryskyj, a Professor at the University of Alberta who also studies the connections between antibiotics and asthma. Kozryskyj, who wasn't involved in Bisgaard's study, suggests that asthma can be caused by the illness that the antibiotic was prescribed for.
"The results don't suggest that women should avoid antibiotics since some infections can be quite dangerous to the fetus," she said. " We're beginning to appreciate that some of the origins of asthma and changes to the immune system, maybe they start earlier than right after birth."