• The Star Staff

Taking antibiotics during pregnancy tied to asthma in children

By Nicholas Bakalar

Taking antibiotics during pregnancy may increase the risk for asthma in children, a new study concludes.

Danish researchers found the risk was increased in women who took antibiotics during the second and third trimesters, and in babies born vaginally.

The report, in The Archives of Disease in Childhood, included 32,651 Danish mothers, of whom 5,522 were exposed to antibiotics during pregnancy. The mothers reported their own and their children’s health data in periodic questionnaires and telephone interviews. When the children were 11 years old, the researchers gathered data on asthma cases.

Exposure to antibiotics in the first trimester was not associated with increased risk. But compared with unexposed children, those exposed to antibiotics in the second or third trimester were 14% more likely to have asthma. Exposed children born vaginally had a 17% increased risk, whereas exposed children born by C-section had no increased risk.

A co-author, Dr. Lars Henning Pedersen, a professor of obstetrics at Aarhus University, said the antibiotic was probably altering the vaginal microbiome, but how this would lead to an increased risk for asthma remains unknown. Still, Pedersen said some diseases required antibiotic treatment during pregnancy. “Suppose you have a urinary tract infection,” Pedersen said. “Untreated, it can lead to serious complications for both mother and baby. Those risks are much greater than the slight increased risk for childhood asthma.”

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