Babyhood antibiotics increase the risk of type one diabetes in childhood

Photo by CDC on

Adapted from Diabetes in Control Antibiotic Treatment increases risk for type one diabetes by Chardae Whitner May 15 2021

Both prenatal and first year of life antibiotic exposure may increase the risk for developing type one diabetes in childhood.

It is believed that early life risk factors which include antibiotic treatment can influence the risk of type one diabetes by affecting the gut microbiome. This affects the development of the immune system. Type one diabetes children have been found to have lower microbial diversity in their gut compared to children without diabetes. Antibiotic exposure in early life delays microbiota maturation.

Sweden has the highest rates of type one diabetes in the world despite a relatively low antibiotic prescription rate. They studied siblings, some affected by diabetes and some not. They looked at antibiotic prescriptions, mode of delivery, sex, birth year and genetic predisposition to type one diabetes. The children studied were born between 2005 and 2013. 797,318 children were studied.

Overall 800 prescriptions for antibiotics were issued in the first year of life. These were most commonly for ear infections, then respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, and then skin and soft tissue infections.

Exposure to antibiotics prenatally was associated with an increase in type one diabetes in childhood of 1.15 (so weakly associated). Antibiotic exposure in the first year of life raised this a little to 1.19. (still weak. You would need to have 1,475 babies have antibiotics to have one extra case of childhood diabetes before the age of ten).

Siblings of type ones have a risk of 1.36, so this is a stronger risk than antibiotic exposure.

Caesarian section did give an increased rate of type one diabetes in childhood but sex, genetic predisposition and birth year did not. The risk was 1.10 in vaginally delivered babies and 1.60 in the little caesars. So this was again a bit stronger than sibling risk.

Wernroth, Mona-Lisa et al. Early childhood antibiotic treatment for otitis media and other respiratory tract infections is associated with risk of type one diabetes. Diabetes Care May 2020.

My comment: My son Steven has type one diabetes and had a strong family history on his dad’s side of autoimmune disorders including type one diabetes in several generations. He also was a caesarian section delivery and also had a peri-orbital skin infection when he was about seven months old that required antibiotics. Poor wee soul! These days no one gets a caesarian section without a good reason and antibiotics are well thought out. There isn’t much you can do about being a sibling of someone with diabetes. What you can do is take vitamin D in pregnancy and give it to your children from birth onwards.

1 thought on “Babyhood antibiotics increase the risk of type one diabetes in childhood”

  1. As Sheryl often says blame the don’t blame the Caesarian section, blame the doctor. 🙂 Hey, she is though.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.