Antibiotics Treatment at an Early Age May Harm Immunity

   |  Updated: August 20, 2014 13:15 IST

Antibiotics Treatment at an Early Age May Harm Immunity
Exposure to antibiotics at an early age can cause a long term damage to your immune system. According to a recent research conducted by the University of British Columbia (UBC) and published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, antibiotics can get confused between good and bad bacteria and can harm the good ones. If the good bacteria are harmed, it can lead to poor immune defense and higher susceptibility to contract diseases in the longer run. (More: How to boost immunity)

"This is the first step in understanding which bacteria are absolutely necessary to develop a healthy immune system later in life," said Kelly McNagny, a professor in the Department of Medical Genetics who led the research along with UBC microbiologist Brett Finlay.

For the study, the researchers conducted experiments where they tested the impact of two antibiotics - vancomycin and streptomycin on newborn mice. The results showed that streptomycin increased susceptibility to a disease known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis later in life, but vancomycin had no effect. The difference in each antibiotic's long-term effects can be attributed to how they changed the bacterial ecosystem in the gut. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is an allergic disease found in people with occupations such as farming, sausage-making, and cleaning hot tubs.

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According to the researchers, this study is a an attempt to understand the various effects that antibiotics can have on the immunity-strengthening good bacteria. It might help pinpoint which bacteria make us less susceptible to disease. This could open up the possibility of boosting helpful bacteria through the use of probiotics.

"Probiotics could be the next big trend in parenting because once you know which bacteria prevent disease, you can make sure that children get inoculated with those bacteria," said McNagny.

Inputs from PTI

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