Antibiotics taken during pregnancy weakens baby’s immune system, increases pneumonia risk


Scientists have warned pregnant women who take antibiotics could be putting their unborn children at risk. Experts found drugs used to beat infections can interfere with a baby’s immune system long-term.

According to new research, friendly gut bacteria, which play a pivotal role in the development of a child are frequently wiped out by the drugs.

In a study on mice this was found to leave them at higher risk of developing pneumonia – which can be deadly.Researchers found immune system cells linked to fighting lung cancer were missing after exposure to antibiotics. Longer term, continued disruptions to gut bacteria appear to cause permanent immune system damage.

Led by researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the study may spark a wider conversation about antibiotics use. They said the practice of prescribing them to women before undergoing a Caesarean section should be questioned.

Study author Dr. Hitesh Deshmukh 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.” But the research, published in Science Translational Medicine, urged clinicians to strive to decrease antibiotic use as a long-term goal.

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