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.
A new study led by researchers at the University of Minnesota has found a three-way link among antibiotic use in infants, changes in the gut bacteria, and disease later in life. The imbalances in gut microbes, called dysbiosis, have been tied to infectious diseases, allergies and other autoimmune disorders, and even obesity, later in life.