Study: Exposure to Antibiotics Early in Life Associated with Higher Food Allergy Risk


A study published in the journal Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology from the University of South Carolina has determined that antibiotic use in the first year of life is associated with an increased risk of developing food allergies.

Researchers studied data from South Carolina medicaid records collected between 2007 and 2009, identifying 1504 cases of children with food allergies and 5995 children without, adjusting for birth month and year, sex and race/ethnicity. After adjusting for additional factors such as birth, breastfeeding, asthma, eczema, maternal age and urban residence, the researchers found that children prescribed antibiotics within the first year of life were 21% more likely to be diagnosed with food allergy than children who did not receive antibiotics. That association increased with the number of prescriptions the child received, to 31% greater with three prescriptions, 43% with four prescriptions, and 64% with five or more prescriptions.

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The study found that children prescribed the broad-spectrum antibiotics cephalosporin and sulfonamide had a stronger association that those with narrower spectrum agents such as penicillins and macrolides.

Dr_Bryan_Love_Given a body of research suggesting that antibiotics are frequently improperly prescribed to treat viral infections, the study’s lead, Dr Bryan Love, said “We need better diagnostic tools to help identify kids who truly need antibiotics. Overusing antibiotics invites more opportunity for side effects, including the potential development of food allergies, and can encourage antibacterial resistance.”

The research team is now expanding their study to include data from other states.

Source: Young children’s antibiotic exposure associated with higher food allergy risk – University of South Carolina Press Release
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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
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  1. In my case this is not true. We had no food allergy history in either family. My son had antibiotics once , for 1 day when he was 14 months, for a double ear infection, , he got a rash and I discontinued. At 1 yr old he reacted to egg, swelling and hives, being treated with benedryl, at 2 and 1/2 he had a biphasic reaction to a nut in a can of nuts, facial swelling, full body hives, profuse nasal congestion and chronic sneezing, no breathing difficulties. He now carries an Epi-pen. Other than 1 dose he never had antibiotics. Antibiotics have nothing to do with food allergies. Maybe we should examine the foods we eat and how they are grown, non-gmo all the way and organic as much as possible.

  2. I completely agree with organic and non-gmo foods, but you can’t really say that antibiotics have NOTHING to do with food allergies. Of course not ALL food allergies are due to antibiotic use, but I think this study shows that there could be a link. Antibiotics could trigger a change in body’s immune system, especially at an early age. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. Just because that is not the case in your child does not mean that it is not possible. There are multiple factors that cause food allergies, and this could be just one contributing factor in some cases.


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