April 20, 2013
The use of antibiotics in medicine and in agriculture has risen at an alarming rate over the last several decades. As a result, many bacteria are becoming resistant to these types of drugs resulting in "super bugs" like MRSA and VRE. Many are given antibiotics as a preventative or as a "just in case" at the first signs of a potential infection. There have been many negative side effects of this type of practice. The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study in 2010 looking at the relationship between children given antibiotics before the age of 6 months and the risk of developing asthma. Of the 1,401 children followed, one-third had been exposed to antibiotics by 6 months of age.
· One course of antibiotic exposure increased the risk of asthma by 40%.
· Two or more courses of antibiotic exposure increased the risk of asthma by 72%.
· The increased risk for asthma in children who had no parental history of asthma was 89%.
· If one parent had a history of asthma the increased risk of asthma was 140%
compared with children with no history of parental asthma. If both parents had a
history of asthma the increased risk was 257%.
The flora that lives in our gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in the development of our immune system with some researches estimating 50-70% of our immune system residing there. Antibiotics can severely alter the balance of the different species of organisms and disrupt the function of the immune system. Having a healthy ecosystem with the right types and numbers of organisms in our GI tract greatly influences our overall health.
Antibiotic Exposure by 6 Months and Asthma and Allergy at 6 Years: Findings in a Cohort of 1,401 US Children.
American Journal of Epidemiology;December 29, 2010; Vol. 173, No. 3; pp. 310-318