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Pregnant women with asthma encouraged not to ask for antibiotics

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Researchers have advised caution when prescribing antibiotics to women with asthma during pregnancy, as it may increase the risk of their child going on to develop the condition as well.

Where possible, women whose children are at risk for developing asthma should avoid antibiotics, claim the authors of a new study.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, followed 298 mother-child pairs through the child’s third year of life.

“We recommend caution when symptoms are not clearly caused by a bacterial infection”

Dennis Ownby

The study found that 22% of the 103 children born to mothers who took antibiotics during pregnancy were diagnosed with asthma by age three.

In contrast, only 11% of the children born to mothers who did not take antibiotics prenatally were similarly diagnosed.

Although the study revealed that prenatal antibiotic use might be associated with the development of asthma, it did not hold true for wheezing.

Study author Brittany Lapin said: “We were particularly interested in how prenatal antibiotic use affected at-risk children – those with a parent with asthma, hay fever or eczema.

“The message to pregnant women is to avoid antibiotics to the extent that they can, and possibly avoid asthma development in their children,” she said.

Study co-author Dennis Ownby, a fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, said: “The more we know about what factors increase the probability of asthma developing, the better we can assist our pregnant patients.

“We wouldn’t recommend not giving antibiotics to a pregnant woman, but we recommend caution when symptoms are not clearly caused by a bacterial infection,” he said.

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