A large-scale, international study concludes development of celiac disease and type 1 diabetes is not associated with drugs used to treat common childhood infections
By Amy Ratner
Beyond Celiac Medical and Science News Analyst
Antibiotics commonly prescribed for children do not increase the chance of celiac disease or type 1 diabetes developing in kids who are already at risk for either of the conditions, according to a new study.
Researchers found that antibiotics, including penicillin, amoxicillin and cephalosporin, prescribed during a child’s first four years were not associated with the development of autoimmunity for celiac disease or type 1 diabetes.
A lack of evidence regarding the consequences of using antibiotics early in a child’s life in relationship to celiac disease and type 1 diabetes prompted the study. The increased use of antibiotics worldwide has been proposed as a cause for an increase in autoimmune diseases in industrialized countries, the study authors wrote.
Results of the study, published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics , suggest that the antibiotics evaluated should be used as clinically needed, and that physicians’ recommendations for use of these drugs should not influenced by any potential for related disease development.
Eric W. Triplett, Ph.D., a study author and professor and chairman of the department of microbiology and cell science at the University of Florida, said scientists wanted to get to the “heart of the matter” because parents want to know if their children are going to be put at risk when an antibiotic is prescribed. In an interview published by the university, he said the message to parents is clear.
“Don’t worry about the standard antibiotics for children under age 4. If you’re concerned and there is a history of Type 1 diabetes or celiac disease in your family, antibiotics are not going to contribute to the risk of developing the disease,” he said.
Study participants from the United States, Finland, Sweden and Germany included about 6,600 children enrolled in The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young, known as the TEDDY study, who were tested for tissue transglutaminase autoantibodies associated with celiac disease. Nearly 8,500 children enrolled in TEDDY were tested for islet antibodies associated with type 1 diabetes.
TEDDY study– An investigation by researchers from around world to find the cause of type 1 diabetes, which effects children who must take shots and monitor their blood sugar several times a day to stay alive and healthy. Scientists are conducting studies to identify environmental factors that trigger the development of the disease in genetically susceptible individuals. It’s funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and enrolled children are being followed until they are 15 years old.
Parents reported which antibiotics their children had taken and how often. Amoxicillin was prescribed most often, while ear infections were most often the reason for an antibiotic prescription.
Neither exposure to or frequency of use of any of the antibiotics influenced the risk of either type 1 diabetes or celiac disease developing.
Study authors noted that lack of an association between antibiotics and autoimmunity does not mean there is no connection between viral infections or bacteria in the intestine that is resistant to common antibiotics.
Previous studies of antibiotics and both type 1 diabetes and celiac disease have had conflicting results. A 2013 study of antibiotic exposure and celiac disease found a positive association, concluding that antibiotics, possibly through changes in the gut microbiota, could play a role in early celiac disease development. But the study also noted that a possible explanation was that antibiotics were often prescribed to patients who had symptoms of undiagnosed celiac disease. In that study, which included children and adults, penicillin was the most commonly prescribed antibiotic.
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