Antibiotic-induced bacteria death in the gut can affect how the immune system responds to common allergens and may offer an explanation for rapidly increasing rates of asthma.

The findings, by researcher Gary Huffnagle and colleagues at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, could help explain not only increasing rates of asthma, but also of other allergies and inflammatory diseases.

“Antibiotics knock out bacteria in the gut, allowing fungi to take over temporarily until the bacteria grow back after the antibiotics are stopped,” says Huffnagle. “Our research indicates that altering intestinal microflora this way can lead to changes in the entire immune system, which may produce symptoms elsewhere in the body.”

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