Neonatal sepsis, antibiotic therapy and later risk of asthma and allergy

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2010 Jan;24(1):88-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2009.01080.x.


Neonatal sepsis and early antibiotic therapy affect bacterial colonisation and immune activation after birth. This could have implications for later risk of allergy and asthma. Using a validated questionnaire (International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Children, ISAAC), we screened for asthma and allergy in three cohorts (total n = 834; median age 12, range 7-23 years) with different perinatal exposures as regards infection and antibiotics. Asthma, but not hay fever, was more prevalent after neonatal sepsis with adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.63 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04, 2.56] and early antibiotic therapy (OR 1.48 [0.93, 2.35]) as compared with a control group. There was a trend towards increased atopic eczema after neonatal sepsis (OR = 1.39 [CI = 0.98, 1.98]). We conclude that neonatal sepsis is associated with an increased risk for later development of asthma. Early antibiotic exposure may contribute to this association.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sepsis / drug therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents