Asthma inhaler. (Pixabay photo)

Asthma inhaler. (Pixabay photo)

Lower childhood asthma rates from less prescribing of antibiotics: B.C. study

Children who were prescribed antibiotics as infants went on to develop asthma, study finds

Childhood asthma rates have fallen because fewer unnecessary antibiotics are being prescribed to babies within the first year of life, a study by British Columbia researchers says.

It says infants who were given antibiotics face nearly double the risk of asthma by age five. Earlier research shows the drugs affect so-called good bacteria in the gut.

Researchers from BC Children’s Hospital, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the University of British Columbia found that every 10 per cent increase in prescribing of antibiotics was linked with a 24-per-cent jump in asthma rates.

The study on the most common chronic childhood disease was published recently in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Dr. David Patrick, first author of the study and director of research and medical lead of the antimicrobial resistance program at the BC Centre for Disease Control, said antibiotics should be prescribed only for serious infections.

“Most of those antibiotics were prescribed for conditions like viruses, colds, where there was no benefit,” said Patrick, who is also a professor with the school of population and public health at the University of British Columbia.

The findings involved analyzing the data of about 225,000 children up to age four in B.C., for every year between 2000 and 2015.

“This is the first time that we’ve demonstrated a population-level effect in any jurisdiction in the world where a reduction in antibiotic use in babies appears to be resulting in a drop in the asthma rate,” Patrick said.

The study also included the data of 2,644 children in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto who are participants in the ongoing Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development cohort, or CHILD, which began in 2008 to study the development of various conditions from birth, including asthma, allergies and obesity.

Children who were prescribed antibiotics as infants and went on to develop asthma could potentially have the healthy bacteria replenished through further research, Patrick said.

Jacqueline Jones was randomly recruited to participate in CHILD at a hospital in Vancouver when she was pregnant with her daughter Charis, who is now nine.

She said her daughter was prescribed antibiotics for bronchitis when she was about nine months old and was diagnosed with asthma in March 2017.

Jones said it’s possible that the asthma is linked to the antibiotics, though she and her 15-year-old son Rhys also have asthma, which can run in families.

“Maybe it did increase her chances of having and developing asthma,” she said. “But at the time you have a not-even-one-year-old who’s coughing, having a hard time breathing and has this infection. When it’s a baby it’s quite scary.”

Jones said she’s hoping both her and her daughter’s participation in the CHILD study will one day lead to further advancements in the treatment of asthma.

Dr. Stuart Turvey, senior author of the study and a pediatric immunologist at BC Children’s Hospital, said that in 2000, about 70 per cent of children received at least one course of antibiotics before their first birthday but that had dropped by half by 2014.

“It was helpful to reduce antibiotic resistance in bacteria but now we see that it had unexpected benefits including being associated with a decreased rate of asthma in kids,” he said.

The CHILD cohort study involved the recruitment of about 3,000 pregnant women across the country to follow the health of their children over time.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central Okanagan Public Schools administration office in Kelowna. (File photo)
COVID-19 confirmed in 5 more Central Okanagan schools

All people who tested positive for the virus are self isolating at home

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

Cranbrook business and property owners are encouraged to flush their water lines ahead of reopening. All it takes is running the cold water tap for several minutes. (Cranbrook Townsman file)
UPDATE: Water advisory issued on Westside

Westshore Estates leak repair causes need to flush system

KLO Middle School. (Google Maps)
KLO Middle School community member tests positive for COVID-19

According to SD23, the individual is self-isolating at home

A worker at Kelowna Airport has tested positive for COVID-19. (File)
Kelowna airport worker tests positive for COVID-19

Individual, who works as a screener, was asked to self-isolate, at which time they tested positive

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Penticton Law Courts
Bail hearing for Penticton man charged with sex assault, forcible confinement

Robert Sauve is facing more than 10 criminal charges

Revelstoke RCMP warn of scam after two people targeted in one day. (Black Press file photo)
Revelstoke RCMP warn of scammer pulling at heart strings

Two people in Revelstoke targeted in one day by person posing as a loved one

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP investigate suspected arson at Shuswap hunting camp

Suspicious fire took place by Scotch Creek forest service road on Oct. 24

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

St. James Anglican Church, Armstrong, B.C. (Google Maps).
Prayer at North Okanagan council meetings a violation of religious neutrality: study

New study found 23 municipalities held prayer sessions at inaugural meetings in 2018, in violation of a Supreme Court decision

An assault charge has been filed after a 10-year-old boy was allegedly struck with a watermelon at a Shuswap campsite in August . (File photo)
Alberta woman facing assault charge after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Shuswap campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Shuswap couple reported having fallen victim to a family emergency telephone scam. (File image)
Shuswap couple fall victim to family emergency scam

Person claiming to be couple’s son said he was injured and in jail

Most Read