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In Utero Exposure to Antibiotics May Up Asthma Risk in Vaginally Born

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 10, 2021 -- Antibiotic exposure in the second to third trimester of pregnancy is associated with childhood asthma for vaginally born children, according to a study published online Feb. 9 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Cecilie Skaarup Uldbjerg, from Aarhus University in Denmark, and colleagues conducted a cohort study to examine whether antibiotic exposure during pregnancy was associated with parent-reported childhood asthma at 11 years. The study population included 32,651 children, of whom 17 percent were born to mothers exposed to antibiotics during pregnancy.

The researchers found that children born to exposed mothers had increased odds of asthma in adjusted analyses (odds ratio [OR], 1.14; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.05 to 1.24). Compared with no exposure, there was no association with antibiotic exposure in the first trimester (OR, 1.02; 95 percent CI, 0.83 to 1.26), but the odds were increased with antibiotic exposure in the second to third trimester (OR, 1.17; 95 percent CI, 1.06 to 1.28). The overall association between antibiotic exposure during pregnancy and childhood asthma was seen in vaginally born children (OR, 1.17; 95 percent CI, 1.07 to 1.28) but not those born by cesarean section (ORs, 0.95 [95 percent CI, 0.66 to 1.37] and 0.96 [95 percent CI, 0.73 to 1.28] for planned and emergency cesarean section, respectively).

"The profligate use of antibiotics in pregnancy should be balanced against the increasing evidence on adverse long-term health outcomes in the offspring, as well as broader concerns regarding antimicrobial resistance," the authors write.

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Posted: February 2021

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