Rising Allergy Rates: Is Antibiotic Overuse the Cause?

Rising Allergy Rates: Is Antibiotic Overuse the Cause?
Rising Allergy Rates: Is Antibiotic Overuse the Cause?

Scientists have warned for decades that the overuse of antibiotics leads to the development of drug-resistant bacteria, making it harder to fight infectious disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that drug resistant bacteria cause 23,000 deaths and two million illnesses each year.

But when we think of antibiotic overuse, we don't generally think of allergies. Research is beginning to suggest that maybe we should.

Allergies Are Getting More and More Common


In the last two to three decades, immunologists and allergists have noted a dramatic increase in the prevalence of allergies. The American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology reports that some 40%–50% of schoolchildren worldwide are sensitized to one or more allergens. The most common of these are skin allergies such as eczema (10–17%), respiratory allergies such as asthma and rhinitis (~10%), and food allergies such as those to peanuts (~8%).

This isn't just happening in the US. Other industrialized countries have seen increases as well.

This rise has mirrored the increased use of antibiotics, particularly in children for common viral infections such as colds and sore throats. Recent studies show that they may be connected.

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