Taking Antibiotics During Pregnancy Could Leave Babies With Poorer Health

REUTERS/Regis DuvignauA pregnant woman, in the last trimester of her pregnancy, poses in this illustration photo in Sete, South France.

A new study conducted by New York University shows a correlation between pregnant mothers who take antibiotics and the increase in irritable bowel disease (IBD) in children.

According to the Daily Mail, the study indicates that antibiotics change the microbiome found in the gut of a person, disrupting the balance between good and bad bacteria. In turn, pregnant women who take antibiotics pass on this imbalance to their children, resulting in irritable bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

During a pregnancy, the mother transfers some of her microbiome to the baby, which teaches the child's gut bacteria how to properly metabolize and carry out immune functions. But, when the mother takes antibiotics while pregnant, the medicine changes the microbiome. The chances of the baby having trouble processing what they eat then become higher.

There have been many other studies linking the two factors to each other, but not a lot of experiments in mice have indicated a direct cause and effect relationship. The study conducted by New York University purposely changed the microbiome with antibiotics prior to transferring them to pregnant mice.

"Our results provide strong evidence that antibiotics change the baby's inherited microbial communities with long-term disease consequences, which is especially important given the widespread use of antibiotics in young women before and during pregnancy," Dr. Martin Blaser at New York University School of Medicine said.

"Our study shows that the changes made to the microbiome by antibiotic exposure can be transmitted across generations, from moms to their offspring, which is consistent with our work and that of others in humans," he further added.

According to Mayo Clinic, pregnant women are commonly prescribed with antibiotics, though there are a number of factors that contribute to safety. It is generally considered safe to take penicillins, cephalosporins, erythromycin, and clindamycin during a pregnancy. However, it is still best to consult with one's doctor or health care provider.

New York University's study has been published in the Nature Microbiology journal.