The role of antimicrobial treatment during pregnancy on the neonatal gut microbiome and the development of atopy, asthma, allergy and obesity in childhood

Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2019 Mar;18(3):173-185. doi: 10.1080/14740338.2019.1579795. Epub 2019 Feb 22.


Introduction: The use of antibiotics prenatally, during pregnancy, or neonatally may have adverse effects on the neonatal gut microbiome, and adversely affect the development of the infant immune system, leading to childhood atopy, asthma, allergy and obesity.

Areas covered: Vaginal eubiosis and dysbiosis from molecular-based, cultivation-independent techniques, and how this affects the neonatal gut microbiome and early development of the immune system, the association between maternal antibiotics and the beneficial role of vitamin D in the development of atopy, asthma, allergy and obesity, efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in pregnancy and therapeutic interventions such as vaginal 'seeding', probiotics, breastfeeding and neonatal dietary supplementation.

Expert opinion: Currently available research gives insufficient attention to confounding variables. There remains uncertainty as to whether it is relevant that the mother suffered from the same condition as the purported infant outcome variable, for which she may have received antibiotics. In most studies, there is a lack of control for the number of antibiotic courses administered, the timing of use, the use of broad spectrum or narrow range antibiotics, the indication for antibiotics, the dose-dependent nature of the effect, the class of antibiotics used, or a varying degree of risk.

Keywords: Allergy; antibacterial; antibiotic; antimicrobial; asthma; atopy; childhood; obesity and pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / etiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / immunology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents