Common antibiotic use in middle life linked to cognitive decline

Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

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

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

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

Prior research has also shown that antibiotic use can lead to serious disruptions in the 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.

To learn more about the possible impacts of antibiotics used by middle-aged women, the researchers pulled 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 female 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 decline was approximately equivalent to three to four years of aging.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about a key to activating the ‘fountain of youth’ in the brain, and how COVID-19 triggers immune response in the brain.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about heartburn drugs that could increase the risk of dementia, and results showing this MIND diet may protect your cognitive function, and prevent dementia.

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

Copyright © 2022 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.