For instance, a study from 2005 found that infants exposed to antibiotics in the first 4–6 months have a 1.3–5-fold higher risk of developing allergy. And infants with reduced bacterial diversity, which can occur with antibiotic use, have increased risk of developing eczema.

And it’s not the just the antibiotics kids take that can make a difference. It’s also the antibiotics their mothers take. The Copenhagen Prospective Study on Asthma in Childhood Cohort, a major longitudinal study of infants born to asthmatic mothers in Denmark, reported that children whose mothers took antibiotics during pregnancy were almost twice as likely to develop asthma compared to children whose mothers did not take antibiotics during pregnancy.

Finally, in mice studies, offspring of mice treated with antibiotics were shown to have an increased likelihood of developing allergies and asthma.

Why Are Antibiotics Overused?

Physicians and patients know that overusing antibiotics can cause big problems. It seems that a relatively small number of physicians are driving overprescription of antibiotics. A recent study of physician prescribing practices reported that 10% of physicians prescribed antibiotics to 95% of their patients with upper respiratory tract infections.

Health care professionals should not only be concerned about the development of antibiotic resistance, but also the fact that we may be creating another health problem in our patients, and possibly in their children too.

Parents should think carefully about asking physicians for antibiotics in an attempt to treat their children’s common colds and sore throats (or their own), which are often caused by viral infections that don’t respond to them anyway. And doctors should think twice about prescribing antibiotics to treat these illnesses, too.