July 21, 2015 — Children who take antibiotics may be more likely to develop juvenile arthritis, according to a study published in Pediatrics.
Conclusions were based on data from more than 400,000 children in the United Kingdom, including 152 who had juvenile arthritis.
Researchers warned that any antibiotic exposure was associated with a doubled increased rate of developing juvenile arthritis. Higher doses and longer treatments were associated with even higher risks.
However, the overall risk is still very low. Even if antibiotics doubled the risk of juvenile arthritis, the side effect would occur in approximately 10 out of every 100,000 children.
The authors, led by Dr. Daniel B. Horton at the University of Pennsylvania, warned:
“This public health finding is potentially important, considering that approximately one-quarter of antibiotics prescribed for children, and an estimated one-half of antibiotics for acute respiratory infections, may be unnecessary and potentially avoidable.”
Antibiotics do much more than kill harmful bacteria. They can drastically change the microbiome (community of bacteria in the human body) and can set children up for systemic inflammation and irritation, according to researchers.
Some bacteria appear to have pro-inflammatory effects, where others have anti-inflammatory effects. Some experts are concerned that imbalances of pro-inflammatory bacteria could potentially lead to arthritis and other auto-immune diseases.
Recently, antibiotics like Avelox and Levaquin have been linked to peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that occurs rapidly and can cause permanent muscle weakness and pain.