When the topic of antibiotics comes up here, the concerns usually focus on adults who lean on them too often to treat common health problems. This over-reliance on antibiotics, in addition to daily exposures from antimicrobial soaps and cleaners plus drug residues hiding in the flesh foods we eat, is creating a world full of superbugs in which these powerful drugs are slowly losing their ability to work as they should.
Now, we’re learning how the health of children exposed to antibiotics is affected for the long term, and the results aren’t good.
Harmful early exposure to antibiotics
You probably wouldn’t expect infants to be exposed to enough antibiotics to create any health risks.
Yet, researchers from the Mayo Clinic and Rutgers University found evidence that even one dose of antibiotics given to children under age 2 was connected to greater risks of serious health problems as they grew up, according to a study appearing in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Among the laundry list of health problems associated with one dose of antibiotics faced by babies living in the Midwest:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Celiac disease
- Food allergies
Roughly, 70 percent of babies in Minnesota and Wisconsin had been prescribed at least one course of antibiotics but most had received multiple rounds, based on data collected by the Rochester Epidemiology Project.
What’s more, the long-term harm varied among a number of factors, including gender, the variety of antibiotics taken and how many times these drugs were prescribed. For example, penicillin was linked to higher incidences of celiac disease and ADHD in girls, obesity among boys and asthma in both sexes.
Reducing health risks with probiotics
When antibiotics were developed then prescribed for children, the emphasis was merely on controlling pathogens, not the greater effect these drugs could have on the microbiome, especially for a baby’s developing gut health, according to the study.
Now, we recognize the problems with antibiotics — an estimated 47 million are prescribed needlessly every year according to the CDC — the need to minimize their use and the collateral harm they can cause for a child’s developing microbiome.
If you’re looking to limit your child’s exposure, a recent report we shared with you showed how taking a probiotic may lessen the need for antibiotics.
Do you need guidance on how maximize the probiotic benefits for your son or daughter when they’re taking a round of antibiotics? Check out our updated to-do list of probiotic basics you need to know.
- Mayo Clinic Proceedings
- Mayo Clinic News Network
- Rutgers University
- Rochester Epidemiology Project