Studies in mice have revealed that antibiotics prescribed for babies can have a serious effect on their gut function in adult life.
Scientists from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, USA, treated the mice with an oral antibiotic, called vancomycin, for the first ten days of their lives, to discover its long-lasting effects on gut health.
The researchers found that the antibiotics could have prolonged effects on the enteric nervous system, including the movement of food through the gut and diarrhoea-like symptoms in adulthood.
Melbourne researcher Dr Jaime Foong, as reported in the Physiological Society, said: “This provides further evidence of the importance of microbiota on gut health and could introduce new targets to advance antibiotic treatment to very young children."
The findings cannot yet be directly correlated to human children, but although the gut microbiota and nervous system of mice are less complicated than those of humans, they share many similarities.