Updated: Oct 17, 2022
Research published in Antibiotics, investigated the effect of early-life exposure to antibiotics and household cleaning
products on C. difficile colonization in infants. Infants colonized by C. difficile usually show no symptoms but C. difficile is a major pathogen that is responsible for diarrhea in adults and older children. Colonization in infancy may serve as a reservoir for adult C. difficile infections, or it may indicate that the infant has lower resistance to colonization and that the maturation of its gut microbiota may be delayed. This, in turn, may make the child more vulnerable to allergies and asthma, which we already know are associated with early-life antimicrobial exposure.
Our team analyzed the stool of 1,429 infants in CHILD at 3–4 months of age and 1,728 infants in CHILD at 12 months of age, and studied associations with antimicrobial exposures collected from hospital birth charts and standardized questionnaires. They found that C. difficile colonization was significantly higher in infants at 3-4 months exposed to both antibiotics and a higher usage of household cleaning products. This higher colonization persisted up to 12 months of age. Our study suggests that cumulative exposure to systemic antibiotics and higher usage of household cleaning products facilitates C. difficile colonization in infants. Further research is needed to understand the future health impacts.