Use of antibiotics in infancy and childhood and risk of recurrent abdominal pain--a Swedish birth cohort study

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2014 Jun;26(6):841-50. doi: 10.1111/nmo.12340. Epub 2014 Apr 8.


Background: The etiology of recurrent abdominal pain of functional origin (AP) is largely unknown. Antibiotic treatment influences the intestinal microbiota, and a few studies have indicated an increased risk of AP in adults after antibiotic treatment. Corresponding data in children are lacking. The aim of this study was to explore the association between antibiotic treatment during childhood and AP at 12 years.

Methods: Two thousand seven hundred and thirty-two children from a Swedish, population-based birth cohort. Parents reported antibiotic use for the children between birth and 2 years. Antibiotic use between 9 and 12 years was collected from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register. The children answered questionnaires regarding AP at age 12. We used logistic regression to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for AP at 12 years as a function of antibiotic use.

Key results: Antibiotic treatment between 9 and 12 years was not associated with AP at 12. Children who had received ≥3 courses, or broad-spectrum antibiotics between 9 and 12 years had an increased risk of AP at 12, but these associations failed to reach statistical significance. Antibiotic treatment during both the first and the second year of life increased the risk of AP in girls at 12 (OR 1.65; 95% CI: 1.09-2.49), but not in boys or the whole cohort.

Conclusions & inferences: Antibiotic treatment does not seem to be a major risk factor for AP at 12 years. However, we cannot exclude that repeated courses, especially to infant girls, or use of broad-spectrum antibiotics between 9 and 12 years may be associated with an increased risk of AP.

Keywords: functional abdominal pain; inflammation; irritable bowel syndrome; microbiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / chemically induced*
  • Abdominal Pain / epidemiology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Recurrence
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents