Children should be prescribed fewer antibiotics, as the drugs could contribute to the rise in superbug cases and allergies, as well as obesity and diabetes, an expert has claimed.

Writing in the journal Nature, US microbiologist Martin Blaser claimed that good bacteria in the body is just as susceptible to a course of antibiotics than the infections it aims to treat - and that also the good bacteria never recovers fully afterwards.

Dr Blaser, who is also the chair of the Department of Medicine at New York University, said that over-prescribing antibiotics to young children and pregnant mothers may leave future generations unable to fight common diseases.

He also linked the over-prescribing of antibiotics to the rise in superbugs, and said it stops serious infections such as pneumonia from being treated successfully.

One of Dr Blaser's biggest concerns is the generational impact of antibiotics. He argues that less of the good types of bacteria are being passed down from one generation to the next as they struggle to deal with the increasing amount of antibiotics prescribed.

He said: "Each generation could be beginning life with a smaller endowment. 

"I am not saying not to give antibiotics to people with serious illnesses.

"But if what we suspect is proven, doctors need to look more closely at risk and benefit." 

Posted by Robert Mair on 25.8.11 Please send your comments on this article to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com