Antibiotic use in very early childhood is not associated with the development of type 1 diabetes or celiac disease, according to new research.
Scientists at the University of Florida reviewed antibiotic prescriptions to children within the first four of years life, all of whom were considered high genetic risk of type 1 diabetes, but did not observe a correlation for risk.
The findings indicate that doctors should still recommend antibiotics to children with a high risk of type 1 diabetes if they believe this is the best treatment course.
The study team noted, however, that their findings do not exclude an association between antibiotics and viral infections and gut bacteria.
Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are autoimmune diseases known to affect children, but evidence is limited regarding how antibiotics use in early life affects the risk of these conditions.
This new analysis involved 8,495 infants from four countries who all had a first-degree relative with type 1 diabetes and genetic risks of developing type 1 diabetes.
The parents of the children reported their antibiotic use between the ages of three months to four years, with amoxicillin accounting for 42.3 per cent of all antibiotic use. Cephalosporins, penicillins, and macrolides were the most common antibiotics used.
Overall, the cumulative use of antibiotics during this period did not affect the risk of developing type 1 diabetes or celiac disease.
While the researchers hypothesise that antibiotics could still impact on viral infections and gut bacteria in young children, beta-lactum and macrolides were not shown to be have an adverse influence on gut bacteria.
The researchers concluded: “The use of the most prescribed antibiotics during the first four years of life, regardless of geographic region, was not associated with the development of autoimmunity for T1D or CD.
“These results suggest that a risk of islet or tissue transglutaminase autoimmunity need not influence the recommendations for clinical use of antibiotics in young children at risk for T1D or CD.”
The findings appear online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.