Giving children antibiotics can increase their chances of developing a deadly disease later in life, experts have said.
New research has shown that early exposure to antibiotics can kill healthy gut bacteria, which could lead to asthma in adulthood.
Around 75,000 Britons a year are hospitalized with the disease and four people die of asthma attacks every day.
Antibiotic prescribing among young children is at its highest level in five years, according to data from the NHS Business Service Authority (NHSBSA).
Scientists have warned doctors to avoid prescribing antibiotics to young children as much as possible.
Martin Blaser, director of medicine at Rutgers and lead author of the study, said giving children antibiotics can increase the risk of “significant, long-term problems with allergies and asthma.”
Around five million Britons live with the condition which can trigger breathing difficulties and life-threatening attacks.
The study, published in Mucosal immunologyinvolved giving antibiotics to adult and newborn mice and examining how they reacted to various allergens.
Scientists found that only baby mice suffered from asthma or allergies.
Timothy Borbet, lead author of the research, said the study provided “strong evidence that antibiotics cause adverse immune responses” in children.
Researchers have found that adults who receive antibiotics later in life are no more likely to develop asthma or allergies than those who don’t.
Earlier this month, research found that a million people in the UK were using the wrong asthma inhaler, increasing their risk of a fatal attack.
What are antibiotics used for?
Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to people to treat and prevent certain types of bacterial infections.
They work by killing bacteria or stopping them from spreading, the NHS says.
They do not work for viral infections such as colds and flu, Covid, lung infections, ear infections in children and most coughs and sore throats.
They will probably be prescribed to you if the bacterial infection does not go away without them or if you are at risk of infecting other people.