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Antibiotic Treatment of Pre-Term Infants Results in a Drug Resistant Biome


Studies conducted at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a branch of the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that pre-term infants receiving prolonged antibiotic therapy demonstrated less diverse bacterial gut populations.  Bacteria within the microbiome contained genes resistant to antibiotics including those not administered. 


The long-term effects of genome changes in the microbiome are unknown.  The authors noted that antibiotic treatment during infancy may be associated with the development of allergies, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease or even diabetes in subsequent life.  The comparisons between pre-term infants treated with antibiotics and those not receiving antibiotics suggest that limiting the diversity of microbial communities predisposes to selection of potentially pathogenic species with suppression of beneficial bacteria.


It is possible that similar mechanisms exist in domestic livestock although it is noted that the pre-harvest life span of hogs and poultry is shorter than in humans.


*Gasparrini, A.J. et al Persistent metagenomic signatures of early-life hospitalization and antibiotic treatment in the infant gut microbiota and resistome. Nature Microbiology (2019)

Copyright © 2020 Simon M. Shane