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Here's a New Reason You Should Worry About Antibiotics

From TIME - November 27, 2017

Theres a global push for doctors and patients to use antibiotics more judiciously, largely because overusing them is contributing to growing resistancemeaning that some infections that were previously treatable no longer respond well to medications. Now, a new study in mice suggests that antibiotics may come with another potential health consequence. They could be interfering with the microbiomea community of bacteria that live in the gut and elsewhereand these changes may be passed down through generations and may cause disease.

In the study, published Monday in the journal Nature Microbiology, researchers gave healthy pregnant mice either a normal microbiome or one that had been exposed to antibiotics. Once the mice pups were born, the researchers found that the microbiome changes in the mothers had been passed on to their offspring.

The researchers also looked at a group of mice that were engineered to be at a higher risk for developing colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The researchers followed the offspring of these mice for five months and discovered that the pups who had been born to a mother with a microbiome perturbed by antibiotics had substantially worse colitis than the mice that inherited a normal microbiome.

Whats important is that the pups never [received] antibiotics and their mothers never [received] antibiotics, says study author Dr. Martin Blaser, director of the Human Microbiome Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. This may mean that the effects of antibiotic treatment are long lasting and far reaching, Blaser says.

Prior studies in humans have linked antibiotic exposure to a higher risk for IBD, which is thought to affect about 1.3 million Americans. Blaser says that the new studys findings add to the evidence that antibiotic overuse may cause health complications even beyond antibiotic resistance.

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