Could giving infants antibiotics in their first year of life trigger asthma and allergies that develop later on in childhood?
That's the suspicion of a team of Canadian medical researchers who are conducting a $2.5 million study to find the answer.
More than 50 percent of Canadian infants receive a prescription for antibiotics before they turn one year old.
The study aim is two-fold: first, to discern how intestinal bacteria inside newborns changes after taking antibiotics, and second, to study if those changes trigger medical conditions later.
The researchers are intrigued by microbiota. Considered to be "good" intestinal bacteria, microbiota protect against harmful bacteria and help the body absorb nutrients.
Except no one is born with microbiota. It develops during the first year of life. Hence the age of the research subjects.
The study's proof will be in the dirty diapers. Researchers will analyze the composition of microbiota from fecal samples at three months and again, at one year of age. DNA culled from the baby poop will identify bacteria in the microbiota.