Antibiotic use may increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, a new study has found. File photo by Feng Yu / Shutterstock
May 13 (UPI) — The risk of inflammatory bowel disease in adults 60 and older increases with the number of antibiotics they are prescribed, according to a study presented Friday.
After receiving a prescription for antibiotics, older adults are 27% more likely than those who have not used antibiotics in the past five years to be diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, according to data presented at the annual Digestive Disease Week conference.
Those who were prescribed antibiotics twice had a 55% higher risk of IBD, while those who received the drugs used to treat infections three times had a 67% higher risk. After four courses of prescribed antibiotics, the risk of IBD increases by 96%, while it increases by 236% after five courses, according to the researchers.
However, “if patients arrive with clear infections and require antibiotics, they should not be turned away based on these findings,” said study co-author Dr. Adam S. Faye, in a press release.
“Avoiding antibiotics at all costs is not the right answer,” said Faye, assistant professor of medicine and population health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City.
IBD is actually a group of diseases that includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
All IBD diseases are caused by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that leads to damage, resulting in pain and discomfort, according to the agency.
About 3 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with IBD, he estimates.
Most cases of IBD occur in people who have a family history of the disease, but some are attributed to diet and other “environmental” exposures, including drugs used to treat other health conditions. , said Faye and her colleagues.
Previous research indicates that antibiotics and other medications can alter the gut microbiome, the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract that helps the body digest and process food.
“In older people, we think environmental factors are more important than genetics,” Faye said.
The findings of this study are based on a review of 2.3 million patient records contained in Denmark’s National Health Database.
Faye and her colleagues looked at the prescription records of people aged 60 and over who were recently diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease between 2000 and 2018.
They also recorded the number of courses of antibiotics prescribed, when they were prescribed relative to the diagnosis and the specific classes of antibiotics used, they said.
New diagnoses of IBD were highest among study participants when antibiotics were prescribed one to two years prior, but the risk remained high for prescriptions in the two to five year period before diagnosis, the data shows. .
Antibiotics usually prescribed for gastrointestinal infections were the most likely to be associated with a new diagnosis of IBD, the researchers said.
Based on the findings, older adults with new gastroenterological symptoms should be evaluated for IBD because they have a history of recent antibiotic prescriptions, they said.
“When you look at younger patients with new diagnoses of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, there’s usually a strong family history,” Faye said.
“But that’s not the case in older people, so it’s really something in the environment that triggers it,” he said.