Association between prior antibiotic therapy and subsequent risk of community-acquired infections: a systematic review

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Background: Antibiotic use can have negative unintended consequences including disruption of the human microbiota, which is thought to protect against pathogen overgrowth. We conducted a systematic review to assess whether there is an association between exposure to antibiotics and subsequent risk of community-acquired infections.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and Web of Science for studies published before 30 June 2017, examining the association between antibiotic use and subsequent community-acquired infection. Infections caused by Clostridium difficile and fungal organisms were excluded. Studies focusing exclusively on resistant organism infections were also excluded.

Results: Eighteen of 22588 retrieved studies met the inclusion criteria. From these, 16 studies reported a statistically significant association between antibiotic exposure and subsequent risk of community-acquired infection. Infections associated with prior antibiotic use included Campylobacter jejuni infection (one study), recurrent furunculosis (one study), invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b infection (one study), infectious mastitis (one study), meningitis (one study), invasive pneumococcal disease (one study), Staphylococcus aureus skin infection (one study), typhoid fever (two studies), recurrent boils and abscesses (one study), upper respiratory tract infection and urinary tract infection (one study) and Salmonella infection (five studies), although in three studies on Salmonella infection the effect was of marginal statistical significance.

Conclusions: We found an association between prior antibiotic use and subsequent risk of a diverse range of community-acquired infections. Gastrointestinal and skin and soft tissue infections were most frequently found to be associated with prior antibiotic exposure. Our findings support the hypothesis that antibiotic use may predispose to future infection risk, including infections caused by both antibiotic-resistant and non-resistant organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-296
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy
Issue number2
Early online date14 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


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