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Psychopharmacology

, Volume 236, Issue 5, pp 1573–1582 | Cite as

Exposure to antibiotics in the first 24 months of life and neurocognitive outcomes at 11 years of age

  • R. F. SlykermanEmail author
  • C. Coomarasamy
  • K. Wickens
  • J. M. D. Thompson
  • T. V. Stanley
  • C. Barthow
  • J. Kang
  • J. Crane
  • E. A. Mitchell
Original Investigation

Abstract

Rationale

Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for infants. In addition to increasing concern about antibiotic resistance, there is a concern about the potential negative impact of antibiotics on the gut microbiota and health and development outcomes.

Objective

The aim of this study was to investigate the association between early life antibiotic exposure and later neurocognitive outcomes.

Methods

Participants were infants born to mothers enrolled in the probiotics study. The initial study was designed to evaluate the effect of two different probiotics on allergy outcomes in childhood. Antibiotic exposure was based on parent report and categorised according to the following timing of the first exposure: 0–6 months, 6–12 months, 12–24 months or not at all. At 11 years of age, children’s neurocognitive outcomes were assessed using psychologist-administered, parent-report and self-report measures. The relationship between the timing of antibiotic exposure and neurocognitive outcomes was examined using regression models.

Results

Of the 474 participants initially enrolled, 342 (72%) children had a neurocognitive assessment at 11 years of age. After adjustment for mode of delivery, probiotic treatment group assignment, income and breastfeeding, children who had received antibiotics in the first 6 months of life had significantly lower overall cognitive and verbal comprehension abilities, increased risk of problems with metacognition, executive function, impulsivity, hyperactivity, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and emotional problems.

Conclusions

These results provide further evidence that early exposure to antibiotics may be associated with detrimental neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Keywords

Antibiotics Gut-brain-axis Neurodevelopment Behaviour Anxiety Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder 

Notes

Funding

Funding for measuring the cognitive outcomes was provided by Fonterra Cooperative Group, New Zealand and Cure Kids New Zealand. Funding for the original probiotics study and follow-up was provided by the Health Research Council of New Zealand. EA Mitchell is supported by Cure Kids New Zealand. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, the decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

The study was approved by the Central Health and Disability Ethics Committee (15/CEN/75/AM02). The parent or guardian and the child gave written consent.

Conflict interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

213_2019_5216_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 13 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological MedicineUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Paediatrics: Child and Youth HealthUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of MedicineUniversity of OtagoWellingtonNew Zealand
  4. 4.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of OtagoWellingtonNew Zealand

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