Childhood URTI, antibiotic exposure up susceptibility to atopic, allergic diseases in young adulthood
Individuals who had been exposed to upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) and antibiotics as a child are at heightened risks of atopic dermatitis (AD) and allergic skin diseases in their young adulthood, as reported in a study.
The study included 20,123 first-year college students from five universities in Changsha, Wuhan, Xiamen, Urumqi, and Hohhot, respectively. All participants completed a dermatological field examination and a questionnaire survey that inquired about the frequency of URTI episodes and the preschool antibiotics use (<7 years of age).
The mean age of the population was 18.3 years, and 51.1 percent were men. The prevalence rates of chronic urticaria, allergic reactions to food/drug/light, hand eczema, and AD were 1.89 percent, 2.27 percent, 3.35 percent, and 3.86 percent, respectively. The prevalence rates of AD and allergic skin diseases were 3.86 percent and 4.14 percent, respectively.
Based on the two-level probit model used, AD in young adulthood was associated with frequent exposure to antibiotics both intravenously (adjusted risk ratio [aRR], 1.36, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.14–1.62) and orally (aRR, 1.18, 95 percent CI, 1.01–1.38) prior to 7 years of age.
Similar results were obtained for allergic skin diseases, which showed a strong correlation with both oral and intravenous antibiotics exposure. The corresponding RRs were 1.16 (95 percent CI, 1.01–1.34) and 1.33 (95 percent CI, 1.13–1.57).
The findings suggest that unnecessary antibiotics treatment in children should be avoided to prevent the occurrence of atopic and allergic diseases in their later life.