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Childhood antibiotics use linked to higher risk of mental illness in study

| | December 20, 2018

[Antibiotic] overuse can help create bacterial superbugs resistant to future antibiotics. But a new study published [December 5] in JAMA Psychiatry suggests there’s another, more subtle consequence of antibiotic use, at least in young people: a higher risk of developing serious mental illnesses.

[Neurovirologist Robert] Yolken has speculated that changes in the gut microbiome—the living sea of bacteria that calls our digestive system home—can also harm the brain. That’s because the gut microbiome helps coordinate the gut-brain axis, an intricate communication network of hormonal and nerve signals between the gut and brain that regulates the body. And one of the most destructive ways to change the microbiome is by taking antibiotics.

Yolken and his colleagues in Denmark looked at the medical history of all Danish residents born between 1995 and 2012, totaling just over a million children. They specifically studied children who had taken antimicrobial drugs, almost always antibiotics, for an infection sometime before the age of 18. Then they tracked their mental health history for an average of 10 years.

Related article:  Drugs for mental disorders: Why better access to services ‘will likely make things worse’

Children who were hospitalized and treated for an infection were 84 percent more likely to be hospitalized for mental illness and 42 percent more likely to be given antipsychotics. But even children only prescribed antimicrobials for an infection were still 40 percent and 22 percent more likely to be hospitalized for mental illness or receive antipsychotics, respectively.

Read full, original post: Childhood Antibiotics Could Raise Risk of Mental Illness, Study Finds

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