Study: Antibiotic Use During Pregnancy Increases Baby’s Risk of Infection

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Those born via C-section after mother’s antibiotic use have lower risk, researchers add

A new study from Australian and Danish researchers indicated that children whose mothers use antibiotics during pregnancy have a 20 percent increased risk of being hospitalized for infections.

The researchers found that the antibiotics alter the ‘good’ gut bacteria the babies acquire in utero, negatively impacting immune system development and increasing susceptibility to infection.

Analysis of nearly one million pregnancies between 1995 and 2009 found close to 20 percent of mothers were prescribed antibiotics during their pregnancies. Babies born vaginally, researchers said, faced a higher risk for hospitalization—particularly for gastrointestinal issues—than those born via Caesarian section.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, approximately 20–30 percent of children in developed countries are hospitalized at least once with an infection, regardless of antibiotic use during the mother’s pregnancy.

Senior author David Burgner cautioned that while the study was not intended to dissuade antibiotic use during pregnancy, it was a reminder that the prescriptions should be written only when necessary.

“We need to use antibiotics sensibly in all age groups, including pregnant women,” Professor Burgner said. “Unnecessary antibiotic use can have effects even in the next generation.”

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Rob Senior

Rob has 15 years of experience writing and editing for healthcare. He previously worked for ADVANCE from 2002 to 2012.

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