Antibiotics Used in Late Pregnancy and Risk for IBD in Offspring

Research Supports Importance of Judicious Use of Antibiotics During Pregnancy

Researchers from University of Chicago School of Medicine report evidence from a study in mice that antibiotics administered in late pregnancy and early nursing can increase the risk for development of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in offspring. Antibiotics also caused lasting changes in the gut microbiome of mothers, although without associated increase in IBD risk. According to the authors, the findings highlight the need for caution in the use of antibiotics during the peripartum period, and provides confirmation of earlier epidemiological studies suggesting a connection between antibiotic exposure and risk for IBD. The findings were published earlier this week in the journal Cell Reports.

The researchers administered cefoperazone, a commonly-used antibiotic, to a population of mouse mothers during late pregnancy and early nursing, and analyzed gut microbial population structures of the mothers and their pups. Both exhibited decreases in the diversity of bacteria, and these changes persisted for 4 to 8 weeks following cessation of antibiotic treatment. In comparison to the offspring of untreated mice, those of the treated cohort also exhibited an elevated risk for development of colitis. Eugene Chang, MD, senior author of the study, commented, “What this should tell us, at least as physicians, is that antibiotics are not as innocuous as we think they are, and injudicious, casual use of them can have consequences. In genetically susceptible hosts, the inability to develop the immune system properly can have negative consequences like inflammatory bowel disease or any other kinds of complex immune disorders.”

Read more about the study findings.

The journal article may be read here.

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