Antibiotics in the First year of life Increase Asthma Risk

AugmentenParents, do everything you can to avoid antibiotics in the first year of life!  I was not so wise 20-30 years ago when my own children were infants.  I was the typical pediatrician back then, trained by the system and believing antibiotics were both harmless and the cure for most infections.

I’m embarrassed to make that confession, but it’s good for the soul!  I recall in my early days hearing about Naturopaths who were shunning antibiotics and promoting probiotics, thinking they were misguided. Little did I know that  it was I and mainstream medicine that was misguided.

The study in Lancet “Assessing the association of early life antibiotic prescription with asthma exacerbation, impaired antiviral immunity, and genetic variants in 17q21:a population-based birth cohort study” (which you can read here… )  found that antibiotics the first year of life caused a doubling of wheezing and hospitalizations for asthma.  How could that be?

You guessed it, that same antibiotics vs probiotics thing!  You see, the healthy bacteria in our intestinal track have a lot to do with our immune system and the balance of the immune system (and thus the development of allergies and asthma). More antibiotics = more allergies and asthma.  The single worse thing you can do for your baby is to give them antibiotics.  OK, I exaggerate, cyanide or aspartame would be worse.

Point is, you can avoid allergies and asthma to a large extent, by giving your baby good probiotics and avoiding antibiotics. 

So when should you use antibiotics and when should you try to avoid them?

Use them for a proven bacterial pneumonia that is serious (your child is struggling to breathe). A CBC (complete blood count) will often tell us if the infection is likely viral or bacterial, due to the predominance of neutrophils.  A consolidated infiltrate (infection in one part of the lungs) is usually bacterial. Use them and you may need your child admitted to the hospital for sepsis (bacterial infection in the blood) or bacterial meningitis. Avoid them like the plague for colds and coughs, runny noses, “sinus infections” unless it’s a serious bacterial sinus infection, and more than 90% of ear infections resolve on their own without antibiotics. Strep throat is more controversial.  I always treat it, as I don’t want any of my patients to develop the serious potential side effects of untreated strep infections. I know some naturopaths who do not treat strep throat with antibiotics and instead boost their patient’s natural immune system. 

The study also showed that children who received antibiotics in infancy had significantly lower induction of cytokines, which are important in host defense against viral infections to both RSV and rhinovirus.  So antibiotics in infancy make you more prone to viral infections.  RSV has been known to greatly increase your chances of life-long asthma 

 (see other blogs on this – – click on blogs and search probiotics), 


Dr. Paul


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