In previous studies, experimenters have found that the risk of atopic disease is increased due to less exposure to infection and increased antibiotic use during immune system development. The data have supported this finding in accordance with hay fever, eczema and atopy, but are inconclusive regarding asthma. This study aims to further research the effects of antibiotic use and immune system challenge early in life on the development of allergic asthma. This was done retrospectively by collecting data from labor and delivery records of mothers who delivered vaginally, pediatric records up until age two, and participant completed questionnaires concerning family medical history and home environment information. A total of 206 women and 277 children, of which 18.4% have asthma, were enrolled in the study. Children who were prescribed antibiotics anytime after birth until two years of age were statistically more often diagnosed with asthma than those who were not given antibiotics (OR 2.884, CI 1.093-7.637). Results also suggest that babies who were born pre-term (<37 weeks gestation) were statistically more likely to be asthmatic which may reflect insufficient lung development (OR 3.048, CI 1.191-7.801). Birth order and exposure to antibiotics administered to the mother during delivery, which can correspond to immune system challenge, were determined to have no statistical relationship with asthma diagnoses. This research supports that allergic asthma is dissimilar to other atopic diseases in relation to birth order. More data are currently being collected to further study these relationships.
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Vol. 84 • No. 1