Antibiotics used in midlife linked to cognitive decline in women

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Scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard found a link between the use of antibiotics by middle-aged women and cognitive decline later in life.

The research is published in PLOS ONE and was conducted by Raaj S. Mehta et al.

Previous studies have found that there is a connection between gut health and mental health—communication between the gut and the central nervous system has been labeled the gut-brain axis.

Some scientists have shown an apparent link between problems in the gut and mental diseases, such as depression and schizophrenia.

They also found that antibiotic use can lead to serious disruptions in the gut microbiome. This is not surprising, since the microbiome is made up partly of bacteria.

In this study, the researchers found a link between antibiotic use by women during middle age and a larger than normal degree of cognitive decline.

They used data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, an ongoing project that involves collecting health data from female nurses over multiple years.

The team focused on middle-aged female nurses (mean 54.7 years).

They analyzed data from 15,129 nurses describing antibiotics use and the results of cognitive scores collected several years later, comparing those who took antibiotics over different duration periods with those who did not.

The researchers found that the nurses who had taken antibiotics for at least two months scored lower on the cognitive tests (taken seven years later) than the nurses who had taken antibiotics for a shorter period of time, or not at all.

The findings suggest the cognitive decline was approximately equivalent to three to four years of brain aging.

If you care about cognitive decline, please read studies about inflammation that may actually slow down cognitive decline, and low vitamin D may speed up cognitive decline.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about common exercises that could protect against cognitive decline, and results showing this MIND diet may protect your cognitive function, and prevent dementia.

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