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  1. Kam Uppell
  1. Correspondence to Kam Uppell, London, UK; kuppell{at}

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Antibiotic use in infancy linked to childhood eczema

A link between childhood eczema and exposure to antibiotics in the first year of life has been suggested by a study in the British Journal of Dermatology.

The researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies involving children or young adults 0–25 years of age which assessed the impact of antibiotic exposure either in utero or during the first 12 months of life on subsequent eczema risk. ‘Twenty studies met the inclusion criteria of which 13 were longitudinal and seven cross-sectional. Sixteen studies looked at postnatal exposure, three studies examined prenatal antibiotic exposure and one study examined both’, say the study authors.

The pooled OR for the 17 studies was 1.41 (95% CI 1.30 to 1.53). The pooled OR for the 10 longitudinal studies was 1.40 (1.19 to 1.64) compared with a pooled OR of 1.43 (1.36 to 1.51) for the seven cross-sectional studies. ‘There was a significant dose-response association, suggesting a 7% risk increase in eczema risk for each additional antibiotic course received during the first year of life (pooled OR=1.07 [1.02–1.11])’, the researchers comment. The pooled OR for the four studies relating to antenatal exposure was 1.30 (0.86 to 1.95).

The researchers say that …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.