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Giving Antibiotics to Babies Could Increase Asthma Risk

Researchers found infants treated with the drugs faced a 40 per cent rise in the risk of the incurable condition if they were prescribed a single course of treatment in the first few months of life.

But the dangers increased by 70 per cent if they were given a second batch of drugs for hard-to-treat infections.

The findings, by a team of experts at Yale University, are the latest in a series of studies linking the commonly used medicines with childhood asthma.

But experts have been divided over whether the drugs really are to blame, or whether the children studied were already more susceptible to asthma anyway.

In the latest investigation, scientists concluded there is a strong link, even after allowing for other factors that might explain why some children go on to get asthma, such as a family history of the disease.

Around 1.1 million children in the UK suffer with asthma and the country has some of the highest rates of the disease in the world, especially among young teenagers.

Numerous studies have hinted that early use of antibiotics could be partly to blame.

Many young children are given the drugs to get rid of chest infections.

Cynics have argued that these infections may be a sign that asthma has already set in and that antibiotics are not to blame at all.

Others have argued a family history of the disease is more likely to be the cause.