The idea that each of us is a habitat for millions of species is still a relatively new concept for many people, but biomedical research has been investigating our internal ecosystems for some time. New research shows that antibiotic use in childhood can cause life-long conditions from autoimmune diseases to obesity. In the same way that on the barren slope of a volcanic island vegetation will start to grow from pioneer species to more specialist plants, so too does your gut flora develop during childhood. Now if you were to have a volcanic eruption and destroy part of this developing vegetation it might never return and the same could be true from the excessive use of antibiotics. Kill a key bacterium in a child's gut and that child's immune system might never develop "correctly", leading to an autoimmune disease later in life.