Thursday, March 22, 2012

Asthma epidemic may be linked to common antibiotic: Study

Antibiotics in childhood may cause severe asthma,
a new study on mice shows.
A study conducted on mice may provide some insight into why there has been a dramatic increase in the development and severity of asthma in North America.

The study, published in the journal EMBO, shows that antibiotics taken in childhood may be to blame, since they may damage bacteria living in the gut.

The researchers at the University of British Columbia’s department of microbiology tested the effects of the antibiotics streptomycin and vancomycin on newborn and adult mice.

In the case of vancomycin, the young mice showed altered intestinal flora, and they developed severe cases of asthma.

The older mice did not seem to be affected in the same way.

The study authors suggest that childhood is an important period where the immune system is being developed.

If the process is disturbed, the immune system may not work as efficiently and may be more susceptible to diseases like asthma, they say.

In North America and other developed countries, children are given a lot more antibiotics than in underdeveloped countries, and the rates of asthma have been rising as well, the researchers say.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that can cause wheezing and breathing problems.

Source: CBC News

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