Early Penicillin Use Induces Long-Term Changes in Behaviour

Low-Dose Penicillin in Early Life Induces Long-Term Changes in Behaviour – newswise.com – April 4th 2017

I’m posting this only to illustrate the increasingly obvious important of our gut microbes. In seeking to destroy harmful pathogens, antibiotics ravage the colonies of microbes living in our gut that we rely on for good health – physical and even mental.

Low-dose penicillin in early life induces long-term changes in behaviour, gut microbes and brain inflammation

In a landmark study, researchers at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University have found that providing clinical (low) doses of penicillin to pregnant mice and their offspring results in long-term behavioural changes.  

These changes include elevated levels of aggression and lower levels of anxiety, accompanied by characteristic neurochemical changes in the brain and an imbalance in their gut microbes.

Giving these mice a lactobacillus strain of bacteria helped to prevent these effects.

While these studies have been performed in mice, they point to popular increasing concerns about the long-term effects of antibiotics,” says Dr. John Bienenstock, Director of the Brain-Body Institute at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and Distinguished Professor at McMaster University. “Furthermore, our results suggest that a probiotic might be effective in preventing the detrimental effects of the penicillin.”

Other studies have shown that large doses of broad-spectrum antibiotics in adult animals can affect behaviour.

But there haven’t been previous studies that have tested the effects of clinical doses of a commonly-used, narrow-spectrum antibiotic such as penicillin on gut bacteria and behaviour.

“There are almost no babies in North America that haven’t received a course of antibiotics in their first year of life,” says Dr. Bienenstock.

“Antibiotics aren’t only prescribed, but they’re also found in meat and dairy products. If mothers are passing along the effects of these drugs to their as yet unborn children orchildren after birth, this raises further questions about the long-term effects of our society’s consumption of antibiotics.”

A previous study in 2014 raised similar concerns after finding that giving clinical doses of penicillin to mice in late pregnancy and early life led to a state of vulnerability to dietary induction of obesity.

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