Warning to anyone given antibiotics as children as new ‘side effects’ emerge

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IF you took antibiotics as a child, you may be at higher risk for gut problems later in life, a new study has found.

Medicines are often prescribed to treat or prevent certain types of bacterial infections – and anyone taking antibiotics should continue to do so.

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If you received antibiotics as a child, you may be more likely to have poor gut health, researchers say.Credit: Getty

Scientists from the University of Melbourne in Australia have found that people given the drug during infancy may be at risk for poor gut health in adulthood.

They explained that premature and low birth weight babies are often given antibiotics to prevent infection.

The study published in The Journal of Physiology found that early exposure to antibiotics in newborn mice has long-lasting effects on their microbiota, enteric nervous system and gut function.

This could mean that babies given antibiotics may grow taller and have gastrointestinal problems.

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These could include conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, food poisoning, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Lead Physiologist Dr Jaime Foong said: “We are very excited about the results of our study which show that antibiotics given after birth may have prolonged effects on the enteric nervous system.

“This provides further evidence of the importance of the microbiota on gut health and could introduce new targets to advance antibiotic treatment in very young children.”

It is however important to note that the study was conducted on neonatal mice.

The experts gave the animals an oral dose of the drug vancomycin every day for the first ten days of life.

They were then raised normally until they were young adults, and their gut tissue was examined to measure its structure, function, microbiota and nervous system.

The doctors found that the changes also depended on the sex of the mice.

The female mice had a longer intestinal transit time, meaning the time it takes for a person to digest something or the time it takes for food to move through the colon.

The doctors also found that the poop weight of the males was lower than that of the group that had not received antibiotics.

Both sexes had more fluid in their poop, which is a diarrhea-like symptom.

Experts said that although mice resemble humans in many ways, they have more immature guts.

They also have accelerated growth due to their shorter lifespan.

However, their intestines and nervous systems are less complex than humans, and the doctors added that their findings cannot yet be directly associated with human children and infants.

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Further research will now be conducted on the impact of antibiotics on the gut and how it changes for different genders.

The experts said they will also look at how past life antibiotic use affects metabolism and brain function.

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