Influence of Alternative Lifestyles on Antibiotic Use during Pregnancy, Lactation and in Children

Pien Eras, Ana Paula Simoes-Wust*, Carel Thijs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Alternative lifestyles are likely to be associated with distinct usage of specific medicinal products. Our goal was to find out whether the intake of antibiotics during pregnancy and by children differs according to whether the mothers have alternative or conventional lifestyles. Therefore, we investigated the use of antibiotics by pregnant women and by children up to 11 years of age participating in the KOALA Birth Cohort Study. This cohort comprises two recruitment groups of mother-infant pairs, one with alternative lifestyles (selected via organic food shops, anthroposophic clinicians and midwives, anthroposophic under-five clinics, Rudolf Steiner schools and relevant magazines, n = 491) the other with conventional lifestyles (no selection based on lifestyle, n = 2343). Mothers in the alternative lifestyle group more frequently adhered to specific living rules and identified themselves with anthroposophy more than mothers in the conventional lifestyle group. The results revealed significant differences in antibiotic use during pregnancy and in children from 3 months to 10 years of age between the two groups. The rate of antibiotic use in children was consistently lower in the alternative lifestyle group than in the conventional lifestyle group. Antibiotic use in pregnancy was higher in low educated women, and maternal antibiotic use during lactation was higher after an instrumented delivery in hospital. Antibiotic use in the infant was higher when they had older sibs or were born in hospital, and lower in those who had been longer breastfed. After adjustment for these factors, the differences in antibiotic use between the alternative and conventional groups remained. The results suggest that an alternative lifestyle is associated with cautious antibiotic use during pregnancy, lactation and in children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number837
Number of pages13
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • restricted antibiotics use
  • pregnancy
  • lactation
  • children
  • lifestyle
  • alternative
  • anthroposophic medicine

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