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Why antibiotic use in kids may lead to JIA

As if antibiotic resistance wasn't problem enough, researchers now believe antibiotic use may play a role in the development of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

When penicillin was accidentally discovered almost 90 years ago, it made formerly life-threatening illnesses and infections treatable. Then decades of antibiotic overuse contributed to new problems, such as multidrug resistant organisms.

Now, some believe antibiotic overuse may also be causing disease development through the disturbance of the body's microbiome. Specifically, researchers say there may be a link between the onset of JIA and antibiotic use.

A new study found that children who were prescribed antibiotics were twice as likely to develop JIA as children who did not receive antibiotics, and risks were highest in the first year after the antibiotic use and as the number of antibiotic courses increased, according to Daniel B. Horton, MD, MSCE, a research fellow with the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Child Health Institute of New Jersey and lead author of the new report.

"The overuse of antibiotics directly contributes to the development of resistant pathogens, and the emergence of bacterial resistance is a public health threat associated with significant morbidity and mortality," add Jennifer L. Goldman, MD, MS, and Mary Anne Jackson, MD, of the Children's Mercy Hospital and Clinics and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, in a commentary accompanying Horton's paper in Pediatrics. "However, bacterial resistance is not the only unintended consequence of antibiotic overuse. Alterations in the intestinal flora can result in an immune misbalance leading to immune dysregulation and inflammation. Because antibiotic exposure results in significant intestinal dysbiosis, the relationship between antibiotic use and the development of chronic diseases has been investigated, with some convincing evidence directly associating antibiotic exposure with obesity and inflammatory bowel disease," they write.

Read more via Contemporary Pediatrics