Early Antibiotic Use Linked to IBD

  • We have all heard by now the risks with taking antibiotics incorrectly or when they are not needed. You can increase your chances of certain bowel infections, cause yeast infections or even contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. If that isn’t enough to cause responsible use of these medications, new research indicates that the earlier a child takes an antibiotic the more likely they are to develop inflammatory bowel disease.


    The younger the child when they received their first round of antibiotics the higher the risk for disease development. Children given antibiotics before a year old were five times more likely than children who did not take antibiotics to develop IBD in the future. The older the child gets before having antibiotics the lower the risk for disease development (1).

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    So, what does this mean on a practical level? Basically it means that we need to make sure that we are using antibiotics responsibly. While there is no cause and effect relationship proven there is enough research to indication cautious use of antibiotics in infants. Many parents believe if their infant is sick they need to leave the doctor’s office with an antibiotic prescription. However, many times a virus is the cause of the infection and an antibiotic won’t treat any viral infection.


    There are several ways that a physician can determine if an infection is viral or bacteria in nature. Lab work can be drawn to check white count, patient history of the duration of the illness can be helpful in determining the cause and cultures can be taken of some infections to determine the root cause. Be sure to ask your pediatrician how they know they need to treat with an antibiotic before starting your child on a round, especially if you have a young child or infant.


    Antibiotics are a wonderful tool in the treatment of diseases and have saved many lives over the course of their introduction to the medical “tool box”. There are times when they are indicated and imperative. Just be sure to use them only for bacterial infections and finish the round as indicated by the physician.

    Don’t forget to replenish healthy bacteria with probiotic rich food sources like keifer or yogurt. Supplements can also help as indicated by your physician.


Published On: April 15, 2013