Importance: Allergic diseases are prevalent in childhood. Early exposure to medications that can alter the microbiome, including acid-suppressive medications and antibiotics, may influence the likelihood of allergy.
Objective: To determine whether there is an association between the use of acid-suppressive medications or antibiotics in the first 6 months of infancy and development of allergic diseases in early childhood.
Design, setting, and participants: A retrospective cohort study was conducted in 792 130 children who were Department of Defense TRICARE beneficiaries with a birth medical record in the Military Health System database between October 1, 2001, and September 30, 2013, with continued enrollment from within 35 days of birth until at least age 1 year. Children who had an initial birth stay of greater than 7 days or were diagnosed with any of the outcome allergic conditions within the first 6 months of life were excluded from the study. Data analysis was performed from April 15, 2015, to January 4, 2018.
Exposures: Exposures were defined as having any dispensed prescription for a histamine-2 receptor antagonist (H2RA), proton pump inhibitor (PPI), or antibiotic.
Main outcomes and measures: The main outcome was allergic disease, defined as the presence of food allergy, anaphylaxis, asthma, atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, urticaria, contact dermatitis, medication allergy, or other allergy.
Results: Of 792 130 children (395 215 [49.9%] girls) included for analysis, 60 209 (7.6%) were prescribed an H2RA, 13 687 (1.7%) were prescribed a PPI, and 131 708 (16.6%) were prescribed an antibiotic during the first 6 months of life. Data for each child were available for a median of 4.6 years. Adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) in children prescribed H2RAs and PPIs, respectively, were 2.18 (95% CI, 2.04-2.33) and 2.59 (95% CI, 2.25-3.00) for food allergy, 1.70 (95% CI, 1.60-1.80) and 1.84 (95% CI, 1.56-2.17) for medication allergy, 1.51 (95% CI, 1.38-1.66) and 1.45 (95% CI, 1.22-1.73) for anaphylaxis, 1.50 (95% CI, 1.46-1.54) and 1.44 (95% CI, 1.36-1.52) for allergic rhinitis, and 1.25 (95% CI, 1.21-1.29) and 1.41 (95% CI, 1.31-1.52) for asthma. The aHRs after antibiotic prescription in the first 6 months of life were 2.09 (95% CI, 2.05-2.13) for asthma, 1.75 (95% CI, 1.72-1.78) for allergic rhinitis, 1.51 (95% CI, 1.38-1.66) for anaphylaxis, and 1.42 (95% CI, 1.34-1.50) for allergic conjunctivitis.
Conclusions and relevance: This study found associations between the use of acid-suppressive medications and antibiotics during the first 6 months of infancy and subsequent development of allergic disease. Acid-suppressive medications and antibiotics should be used during infancy only in situations of clear clinical benefit.