The Effects Of Antibiotics On Children’s Health
There is increasing concern about potential long-term effects of antibiotics on children’s health. Epidemiological studies have revealed that early-life antibiotic exposure can increase the risk of developing immune and metabolic diseases, and rodent studies have shown that administration of high doses of antibiotics has long-term effects on brain neurochemistry and behaviour.
The effect of low-dose penicillin in late pregnancy
A recent study invesitgated whether low-dose penicillin in late pregnancy and early postnatal life induces long-term effects in the offspring of mice.
The study conducted in Canada by a Belgian researcher, Dr. Sophie Leclercq (Catholic University of Louvain), sheds new light on the health effects of these drugs. It shows that the administration of antibiotics in a future mother, as well as in a breastfeeding mother, could permanently alter the behavior of her baby.
Sophie Leclercq tempers : "My study is only on mice. What it reveals must not be transposed as such to the human being".
We already knew that the administration of antibiotic early in life may lead to an increased risk of developing obesity and that it may have an impact on the onset of allergies.
Altered behavior that persists into adulthood
At one week of birth, they administered penicillin to future mothers. Similarly, after the birth of the young, we also administered this antibiotic to young mothers while breastfeeding. The doses of antibiotics passed on to the mice were therefore minimal: either by placenta or by breast milk.
After weaning, mouse babies were fed more classically. Then they studied their behavior. This is where they found that mice that had been exposed to antibiotics developed different behaviors. Behavior that lasted until adulthood (8 weeks in these rodents). The antibiotic-treated mice exhibit impaired anxiety-like and social behaviours, and display aggression.
What is the most critical period for this early exposure
In Canada, research in this area is now continuing and focusing on determining the most critical period for this early exposure. Is this the phase in utero? Breastfeeding?