Association of repeated exposure to antibiotics with the development of pediatric Crohn's disease—a nationwide, register-based finnish case-control study

Lauri Virta, Anssi Auvinen, Hans Helenius, Pentti Huovinen, Kaija-Leena Kolho
American Journal of Epidemiology 2012 April 15, 175 (8): 775-84
To determine whether childhood exposure to antibiotics is associated with the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the authors conducted a national, register-based study comprising all children born in 1994-2008 in Finland and diagnosed with IBD by October 2010. The authors identified 595 children with IBD (233 with Crohn's disease and 362 with ulcerative colitis) and 2,380 controls matched for age, gender, and place of residence. The risk of pediatric Crohn's disease increased with the number of antibiotic purchases from birth to the index date and persisted when the 6 months preceding the case's diagnosis were excluded (for 7-10 purchases vs. none, odds ratio = 3.48, 95% confidence interval: 1.57, 7.34; conditional logistic regression). The association between Crohn's disease and antibiotic use was stronger in boys than in girls (P = 0.01). Cephalosporins showed the strongest association with Crohn's disease (for 3 purchases vs. nonuse, odds ratio = 2.82, 95% confidence interval: 1.65, 4.81). Antibiotic exposure was not associated with the development of pediatric ulcerative colitis. Repeated use of antibiotics may reflect shared susceptibility to childhood infections and pediatric Crohn's disease or alternatively may trigger disease development.

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