Antibiotics for babies cause eczema, allergies later in life
• Children given drugs before two years increase chance by 41%
• Vitamin D pill cuts asthma attack threat by half
Experts have found that children given antibiotics before the age of two are more likely to develop eczema in later life and taking vitamin D supplements can slash the risk of severe asthma attacks by half.
Also, a new study has revealed that children who eat oily fish may be better readers than their peers. Researchers discovered that young people’s reading ability significantly improved following the consumption of Omega 3.
Experts say the findings reiterate the importance of ensuring regular consumption of the fatty acid in children’s diets, through oily fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel and sardines.
Meanwhile, studies on almost 400,000 people found that giving the drugs to infants increased their chance of developing the painful skin allergy by up to 41 per cent, and their risk of hay fever by up to 56 per cent.
Researchers think that giving babies antibiotics so early kills off the natural bacteria in their gut, so their immune system never gets used to dealing with germs.
It means that when exposed to relatively harmless foreign substances such as pollen, their immune system over-reacts, sparking an allergic reaction.
The scientists, who presented their data Tuesday at the European Respiratory Society congress in London, compiled the results of 22 studies. They found the increased risk of eczema ranged from 15 to 41 per cent depending on the type of study analysed, rising to 14 to 56 per cent for hay fever.
The risk of both allergies went up if the babies had been treated with two courses, rather than a single course, said Dr. Fariba Ahmadizar, of Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
However, last night doctors said children should still take antibiotics when needed.
Prescriptions data for children is not routinely recorded by the NHS, but experts estimate that the average child in the UK has taken ten courses of antibiotics by the age of 16 – more than one every two years.
Doctors are desperate to reduce the use of antibiotics among children, particularly in cases where they are never needed in the first place.
As well as increasing the risk of allergies, evidence suggests overuse of the drugs also increases the risk of type 1 diabetes and of obesity.
But experts are most concerned that over-prescription of the drugs is creating a breed of untreatable superbugs.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when germs adapt and find ways to survive the effects of medicines.
The more that the bugs are exposed to the drugs, the quicker they evolve.
A major study led by Bristol University last year found that 48 per cent of youngsters in Britain with a common bladder complaint were carrying germs resistant to Ampicillin, a go-to drug used for a variety of illnesses.
Prof. Dame Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, last year said parents should stop asking General Practitioners (GPs) for antibiotics for their children.
Davies told DailyMailUK: “Using antibiotics when we don’t need them, or not always taking the full course properly, gives bacteria in our bodies that opportunity to become resistant to antibiotics.”
British scientists on Tuesday described the pills as a ‘designer drug’ for asthma, both reducing inflammation in the lungs and warding off the viruses that spark attacks.
A major review, involving nearly 1,100 patients, found that people who took the supplements alongside their normal medication saw the risk of a severe attack fall from six per cent to three per cent.
The review, led by experts at Queen Mary University of London, found they were less likely to need hospital treatment, were at lower risk of having to visit A&E, and were less likely to need treatment with steroid tablets.
And as long as patients do not take a huge dose, there is no risk of side effects.
Some 5.4million people in the UK suffer with asthma. Three people die every day because of asthma attacks, and two of these deaths are usually preventable.
Study leader Professor Adrian Martineau, whose work was published in the prestigious Cochrane Library last night, said: “Asthma is a rising problem in the UK, with one out of 11 people receiving treatment for it every day.
“Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, as well as enhancing bone development, helps the development of at least 35 other tissues and white blood cells. This can boost immunity against other illnesses and dampen down inflammation.”
He added: “One can think of vitamin D almost as a designer drug – it has two actions, it can boost immunity to infections and it can dampen down inflammation.”
Meanwhile, the new research discovered that children who took Equazen, an Omega 3 and Omega 6 supplement, for three months showed a larger improvement in reading ability than those who were given a placebo.
They showed significant enhancements in their reading comprehension ability, phonologic decoding time and visual analysis time.
Discussing the findings, Oxford University researcher, Dr. Alex Richardson, said: “Should parents be trying to get their children to consume more Omega 3? Yes they should.
‘We need more parents, teachers and health professionals to be aware how important long chain Omega 3 from fish and seafood are.
“Fish and seafood is the best way of getting it into children. Any fish and seafood makes a useful contribution, the ones that contain even more long chain Omega 3 in a serving are the oily ones.
“If however they really can’t or won’t eat fish then it makes sense to look for a supplement with long chain Omega 3.”
The founder of the independent organisation Food and Behaviour Research, added: “We previously found that nine out of ten British children were not meeting the current official dietary recommendation which is to eat fish twice a week and one portion should be oily fish.
“If parents really want to help their children’s development then they should learn something about nutrition.”
Previous research has shown the positive effects of Omega 3 and Omega 6 in children with inattention and reading difficulties.
However the latest study found that the benefits also extend to mainstream schoolchildren.
*Adapted from DailyMailUK Online
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