A large study published in JAMA Pediatrics demonstrates a significant link between the use of certain medications and the development of atopic diseases, including allergies, eczema, and asthma in childhood. The study found that the risk of food allergies doubled, and drug allergies, anaphylaxis, and hay fever increased by 50% in babies who received an antacid medication early in life. Similarly, the risk of asthma doubled, and the risk of allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, and dust allergies increased by 50% for children given antibiotics during the first six months of life.
This relationship between medication and atopic disease (asthma, allergies, eczema) has been hypothesized and studied for years. The thought is that antacids and antibiotics alter the gut microbiome. As a result, an infant’s body overreacts to foods or proteins it otherwise would have perceived as normal. Therefore, this study reminds us that we must always weigh the risks and benefits of prescribing medicine.
If anyone is interested in diving deeper into this topic, we recommend the book, Let Them Eat Dirt by Dr. B. Brett Finlay and Dr. Marie-Claire Arrieta.