Antibiotics in the early years raises risk of inflammatory bowel disease

The drugs damage the gut bacteria – the microbiota – that are essential for the development of a healthy immune system.

Antibiotics given too early in life also raise the chances for type 1 diabetes, where the body is unable to produce its own insulin, say researchers from Rutgers University.

Even a short, single dose of the drug can do enormous damage to the gut. In tests on laboratory mice, the researchers discovered the drugs injured the colon, causing colitis, a form of IBD.

Lead researcher Martin Blaser said there’s a direct cause-and-effect connection between antibiotics and IBD, and the drugs could also be a cause of diabetes.

Blaser is becoming convinced that any disruption of the maturing microbiome is one of the factors causing the epidemic of chronic disease.

A study by Oxford University discovered that taking antibiotics in the first few years of life affected the brain and social behaviour. The drugs interrupt the brain’s signalling abilities that influence the way we interact with others and our capacity to feel pain and empathise with others.

(Sources: Genome Medicine, 2020; 12; doi: 10.1186/s13073-020-00764-z (Rutgers study); BMC Neuroscience, 2020; 21; doi: 10.1186/s12868-020-00583-3 (Oxford study))