Antibiotics linked to lung damage in newborns

Researchers have found that the ‘excessive use’ of antibiotics in newborns can permanently damage their lung defences.

According to a study led by researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre, US, it has long been accepted that antibiotics used to protect newborns from infection can disrupt the normal growth of their gut bacteria.

In experiments with mice, the researchers found that the short-term disruption of gut bacteria makes infant mice more likely to develop pneumonia.

They discovered that continued disruptions to gut bacteria appears to cause permanent immune system damage. It is hoped that the study will prompt a discussion about the use of antibiotics, including what the researchers call the “near-automatic practice” of prescribing them to women before they deliver by cesarean section.

Dr Hitesh Deshmukh, neonatologist, pulmonary biologist and lead author of the study, said: “It is time to begin pushing back on practices that were established decades ago, when our level of understanding was different.

“To prevent infection in one infant, we are exposing 200 infants to the unwanted effects of antibiotics. A more balanced, more nuanced approach is possible.”ADNFCR-2094-ID-801832224-ADNFCR