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Asthma, allergies linked to antibiotics: study

By Sara Norman

A UBC study says sheltering your kids from germs isn't the best idea for parents. (FOTOLIA)

A UBC study says sheltering your kids from germs isn't the best idea for parents. (FOTOLIA)

Keeping kids away from germs and allergens isn’t doing them any favours, according University of B.C. researchers. While studying several antibiotics, professors Kelly McNagny and Brett Finlay found a link that points to children taking streptomycin being more susceptible to developing asthma or seasonal allergies later in life.

The problem, says McNagny, is the drug used to cure infections changes healthy bacteria as well, weakening kids’ immune system. “It looks almost like once things start getting hard-wired when you’re young, it becomes more difficult to shift things around. The key is to focus on young people to make sure they get a dose of the normal flora they should get,” said McNagny.

The research team is working on determining which bacteria found in what McNagny calls the “ecosystem of the gut” is beneficial and prevents sensitivity to dust, mites and other allergens. McNagny predicts parents will eventually be able to give their kids probiotics filled with those healthy germs to help ward off later problems.

It is important to take antibiotics for bad infections, he warns, but adds parents “being overly so preoccupied with not letting the kids play and not having animals around is maybe not such a great thing.”

Meanwhile, McNagny says adult animals treated with the same drugs didn’t develop disease or allergies any more frequently.


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