Research Summary

Exposure to Antibiotics and Atopic Dermatitis Onset in Children

While no evidence suggests that there is any significant association between exposure to antibiotics and subsequent atopic dermatitis (AD) onset in children, there is the possibility of a presence of protopathic bias, according to a study published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology.

Researchers aimed to examine the risk of developing AD among children exposed early to antibiotics by enrolling children aged 0-14 years between 2004-2017 from the Italian Pedianet database. Hazard Ratios (HR) and 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) were estimated by cox proportional-hazards models for the association between antibiotic exposure during the first year of life with incident AD. Additionally, exposure was noted as a time-varying variable.

In total, 73,816 children were enrolled in the final cohort with 34,202 taking at least one antibiotic prescription. In both unexposed and exposed children, about 8% presented incident AD. However, children with early antibiotic exposure didn’t have any excess risk of AD when compared with unexposed children. Additionally, no dose-response effect was observed.

Researchers concluded, “In the time-varying analysis, antibiotic exposure was significantly associated with AD onset. However, when taking into account the time-lag between exposure and outcome, risks progressively decreased, suggesting possible protopathic bias.”


—Jessica Garlewicz

Cantarutti A, Amidei CB, Bonaugurio AS, Rescigno P, Canova C. Early-life exposure to antibiotics and subsequent development of atopic dermatitis. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. Published online June 20, 2022. doi:10.1080/17512433.2022.2092471