Early exposure to antibiotics may affect adult gut health

Sydney: A team of researchers has discovered that early life exposure to antibiotics has long-lasting effects on the nervous system and can lead to gastrointestinal issues.

The study observed that antibiotics given to neonatal mice have these long-lasting effects which result in disturbed gastrointestinal function, including the speed of motility through the gut and diarrhoea-like symptoms in adulthood.

“Our study shows that antibiotics given after birth could have prolonged effects on the enteric nervous system. This provides further evidence of the importance of microbiota on gut health and could introduce new targets to advance antibiotic treatment to very young children,” said Jaime Foong, University of Melbourne in Australia.

The team gave mice an oral dose of vancomycin every day for the first 10 days of their lives and reared them normally until they were young adults, according to the study published in the Journal of Physiology.

Their gut tissue was looked at to measure its structure, function, microbiota, and nervous system.

“It was found that changes were also dependent on the sex of the mice. The females had long whole gut transit and the males had lower faecal weight than the control group. Both males and females had greater faecal water content, which is a diarrhoea-like symptom,” revealed the researchers.

Although mice have many similarities to humans, they are born with immature guts and have accelerated growth due to their shorter life spans.

The researchers will be doing further studies on the mechanisms of antibiotics on the gut and the causes of the sex specific actions, and if early life antibiotic use has effects on metabolism and brain function.

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