Antibiotics use in Children
Antibiotics are a mainstay of modern medicine, used to treat everything from ear infections to strep throat. However, recent research has raised concerns about the potential side effects of antibiotic use, particularly in young children. One worry is that antibiotics can disrupt the delicate balance of microbes in the gut, known as the microbiome. The microbiome is thought to play a role in everything from cognitive function, and immunity to digestion, and an imbalance has been linked to a variety of health problems.
Some studies have even suggested that changes in the microbiome caused by antibiotic use may contribute to obesity later in life. While more research is needed to confirm these findings, antibiotics can have a profound effect on our bodies, both in the short and long run.
In addition, there are now several studies indicating that antibiotic treatment can impair gut microbiota-brain communication and even lead to cognitive impairment. Researchers found that children who had been treated with antibiotics in the first year of life were more likely to have poor cognitive, behavioural, and emotional outcomes in childhood.
It is hard to overstate the importance of antibiotics. These life-saving drugs have transformed our ability to fight bacterial infections and have saved millions of lives in the process. However, it is important to remember that antibiotics are not without their risks.
It is well known that overuse of antibiotics can lead to the emergence of superbugs. What is less well understood is the impact on the microbiome and the contribution of the microbiota to human health. When antibiotics kill off beneficial bacteria, it can disrupt the delicate balance of the microbiome and lead to a range of health problems. In recent years, there has been an increasing awareness of the importance of gut health, and the role that Probiotics can play in maintaining a healthy microbiome. Probiotics are live bacteria that are like those found in the gut, and they can help to restore the balance of the microbiome when it has been disrupted by antibiotics. There is still much to learn about probiotics and their impact on human health, but there is accumulating evidence that they can help to improve a variety of human health issues.
Maybe it is time for this discussion to be part of the conversation between parents and health providers.
Meghan B. Azad, PhD1,2; Arthur Owora, DrPH 3JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(1):e1919694. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.19694
Olli Turta & Samuli Rautava. BMC Medicine Vol 14:57(2016)
Fröhlich et al. (2016) Slykerman et al. (2017)