Doctors fear giving babies and toddlers antibiotics may dramatically increase their odds of becoming diabetic, doctors.
The warning follows a ‘compelling’ study, which linked the commonly-prescribed drug with type 1 diabetes, the form that usually develops in childhood.
With antibiotics prescription rates rising, scientists decided to see if the drugs were helping to fuel the increase in type 1 diabetes.
Researchers from New York University, United States compared the health of mice given several ‘courses’ of antibiotics when young with creatures not given any drugs.
Those given three antibiotic treatments by the age of six weeks – roughly two and a half years old in human terms – were twice as likely to develop diabetes as those not given antibiotics.
According to the report published in the journal Nature Microbiology and first reported by DailyMailUK Online, males may be particularly vulnerable.
Importantly, the doses of drugs used mimicked those frequently given to children.
Plus, the mice studied were genetically prone to developing type 1 diabetes – to mirror the effect of a child coming from a family with a history of the condition.
The rise is particularly sharp among very young children, with number of under-fives with type 1 diabetes going up five-fold in the past 20 years.
The condition is known to run in families but causes are largely a mystery.
Learning more about what triggers it could lead to new ways of treating and preventing the condition.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system turns on the body, attacking the cells in the pancreas that are needed to turn sugar into energy.
If these friendly bacteria are missing early in life – because they are killed off by antibiotics – the disease may develop.
Backing up this theory, further experiments showed the bugs lurking the gut of the mice given the antibiotics were ‘profoundly’ to those in the creatures not given the drugs.
Finally, when the researchers took some bugs from the antibiotic-treated mice and gave them to germ-free mice, their immune systems changed.