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Antibiotics could up intestinal risk in children

Infants and young children who take antibiotics may have an increased risk of developing a rare type of intestinal blockage, according to a new study.

The results of the study do not prove that antibiotics cause the complication, known as intussusception. The researchers think that antibiotics may be just one of several factors that contribute to intestinal blockage in young children.

However, the findings may provide another reason to use antibiotics sparingly, says the lead author of the study.

“This is the first preliminary study to describe that antibiotic use may be a risk factor in the development of intussusception, the most common form of intestinal obstruction in young children ages 3 months to 6 years,” Dr. David M. Spiro said.

The results of the study “should reinforce the need for both parents and physicians of young children to wisely use antibiotics only when absolutely necessary,” said Spiro, who is at Children’s Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham.

Intussusception is the number one cause of intestinal blockage in young children, but what causes the condition is a bit of a mystery. Roughly 1 in 5,000 babies in the US develop intussusception, according to one study.

Since antibiotics can affect the workings of the gut, Spiro and his colleagues set out to see whether antibiotic use influences the risk of intussusception, something that had not been done before.

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