Do You Give Your Children Antibiotics? Stop!

February 29, 2016
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Although I trust our family paediatrician, I’m always sceptical when it comes to prescribed medication for my kids especially when it comes to antibiotics.

There’s been a lot of study about the use of antibiotics but according to recent research conducted by the University of Helsinki, the use of antibiotics in early years may have long term effects on the metabolic and immunological health of a child.

According to this new research, the use of antibiotics may alter the natural populations of gut microbes in such a way that it leaves them susceptible to weight gain and asthma later in their childhood.

The researchers at the University of Helsinki said that the use of antibiotics is associated with a long-lasting shift in microbiota – clusters of bacteria from different regions of the body – as well as metabolism

Among the children who received macrolides (a class of antibiotic) in early life, we find a positive correlation between overall lifetime antibiotic use and body mass index (BMI), as well as an increased risk of asthma, suggesting that macrolide use may alter the microbiota in infants in a way that predisposes to antibiotic-associated weight gain and asthma in later childhood,” said the study.

In relation to Asthma, the study suggested that macrolide alters the microbiota in a way that disrupts the healthy immune development system. This is in line with previous large international studies that have found an association between asthma and early use of antibiotics.

According to a publication in Paediatrics, common respiratory illnesses such as otitis media, account for approximately three-quarters of all outpatient antibiotic prescriptions for US children and unfortunately, a large fraction of those prescriptions are unnecessary.

Why are antibiotics necessary though?

Even though the body’s disease-fighting immune system can often successfully fight off bacterial infections, sometimes the germs/microbes are too strong and your child can get really sick.

  • Before antibiotics, 90% of children with bacterial meningitis died. Among those children who survived, most had severe and permanent disabilities, from deafness to mental retardation.
  • Strep throat was sometimes a fatal disease, and ear infections sometimes spread from the ear to the brain, causing very severe problems.
  • Other serious infections, from tuberculosis to pneumonia to whooping cough, were caused by aggressive bacteria that reproduced with extraordinary speed and led to serious illness and sometimes death.

Regardless of the above or the research conducted, antibiotics should be used wisely and only as directed by your paediatrician.

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