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Antibiotic Use by Kids Linked to Juvenile Arthritis


July 21, 2015 — Pediatrics has published a study suggesting that children who take antibiotics are more likely to develop juvenile arthritis.

Researchers looked at data on children in the United Kingdom who used antibiotics, including 152 who developed juvenile arthritis between 1994 and 2013.

Exposure to any antibiotic was associated with a doubled increased risk of juvenile arthritis. The risk increased even further for patients who took higher doses for a longer period of time.

Even so, the overall risk was very low because the baseline risk for juvenile arthritis is only 1 in 1,000 children. According to the lead author on the study, Dr. Daniel B. Horton:

“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.”

No causal relationship has been established between antibiotics and arthritis, but experts are concerned because antibiotics do much more than treat infections. They drastically change the body’s microbioma, which could lead to imbalances of bacteria with pro-inflammatory effects. This could lead to systemic inflammation and irritation, which could increase the risk of arthritis and other auto-immune disorders.

Recently, the FDA has also warned that fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Avelox and Levaquin can cause a serious type of nerve damage known as peripheral neuropathy. This disorder can occur within just a few days and cause permanent complications.

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