Antibiotic treatment during early childhood and risk of type 1 diabetes in children: A national birth cohort study

Pediatr Diabetes. 2020 Dec;21(8):1457-1464. doi: 10.1111/pedi.13111. Epub 2020 Oct 1.


Objective/background: Antibiotics are widely used during childhood infections and influence the composition of the microbiota, which is established during the first years of life. Evidence from animal models of type 1 diabetes shows that antibiotics might accelerate disease progression, and altered intestinal microbiota has been reported in association with type 1 diabetes in humans. We aimed to test the hypothesis that early exposure to antibiotics (0-24 months of age) was associated with an increased risk of childhood type 1 diabetes development.

Methods: We studied 75 615 mother-child dyads from the Danish National Birth Cohort. Information on the use of antibiotics during early childhood and type 1 diabetes development in childhood was available for all children via linkage to the Danish National Prescription Registry and the Danish National Patient Register, respectively. The mean follow-up time was 14.3 years (range 11.5 to 18.4 years, SD 1.4).

Results: After adjustment for confounders, we found no association between antibiotic exposure and risk of type 1 diabetes (HR 1.26, 95% CI 0.89-1.79). The number of antibiotic courses during early childhood was not associated with type 1 diabetes development when analyzing for one (HR 1.31, 95% CI 0.87-1.99), two (HR 0.99, 95% CI 0.61-1.63), or 3 or more (HR 1.42, 95% CI 0.95-2.11) courses. Furthermore, no specific types of antibiotics (penicillins/beta-lactam antibacterials, sulfonamide/trimethroprim, or macrolides/lincosamides/streptogramins) were associated with increased risk of type 1 diabetes.

Conclusion: Our nationwide cohort study suggests that postnatal exposure to antibiotics does not influence the development of childhood type 1 diabetes.

Keywords: antibiotics; children; early childhood; postnatal exposure; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't