Antibiotics are practically given out like candy by physicians across the US. They are prescribed on a regular basis and almost always without any caution as to the possible serious side effects on the body.
Antibiotics – Usually the Ear Infection Prescription for Disaster
There is a very high correlation between childhood ear infections and autism spectrum disorders. In fact, research shows the more ear infections a child has and the earlier they have the first ear infection, the more severe the autism. Ear infections are also associated with ADHD, lower IQ scores, poor reading, spelling, and math scores, attention and behavior problems. Many researchers have search for a correlation between hearing problems and these disorders, but the problem may be more correlated with the treatment. Here in the United States, almost 99% of physicians prescribe antibiotics and it is the most common treatment for ear infections. It’s easy to assume that this is the same throughout the world, but this is not the case. In comparison, 30% of physicians in other countries, like Holland, prescribe antibiotics. And yet in other countries, doctors commonly prescribe an antifungal with antibiotics, and you will soon realize why this is so important. So how effective are antibiotics for ear infections? Research published in 1981 aimed to answer that question. A clinical study was conducted where one group received antibiotics, a second group had tubes in the ear and the third group received no treatment. The research showed that there was no substantial difference in outcome in any of the groups. (Van Buchem F and Dunk J. Therapy of acute otitis media: myringotomy, antibiotics, or neither? Lancet 2:883-337, 1981.)
The Viscous Antibiotic Cycle
In 1991, another peer reviewed study of 518 children showed that within six weeks, antibiotic-treated children were 2 – 6 times more likely to have a reoccurrence. This is the perfect recipe for a viscous cycle of ear infection then antibiotics then another ear infection requiring even more antibiotics. What’s important to know are the actual recommendations for antibiotics. In 1998 the Center for Disease Control and the Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines for when to use (and when not to use) antibiotics for the most common pediatric infections. Ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis, sore throats, and colds account for three fourths of all antibiotic prescriptions. To summarize, a culture that confirms a bacterial infection is NECESSARY in order to justify antibiotics. Many parents do not realize that most bacterial infections are SELF-LIMITING and resolve within 14 days regardless of the treatment. In May 2004, this time the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians released guidelines on appropriate diagnosis and treatment for ear infections. Pain medication be prescribed for most children and antibiotics used only if the conditions persist or don’t improve. In a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, researchers found that antibiotics for ear infections are only beneficial to children under the age of 2 with both ears infected. In countries like the Netherlands, watchful waiting has been an accepted practice since about 1990. It is not doubt that the overuse of antibiotics in America has serious consequences.
In 1949 we consumed 80 tons of antibiotics. In 1954 that figure had increased to 250 tons of antibiotics per year and as far back as 1990 on a yearly basis, American was using 20,000 tons of antibiotics. By now, current statistic is unimaginable. Now I’d like you hold that thought about antibiotics for a second while we talk about the gastrointestinal system because most people are not warned of the possibly devastating consequences of antibiotic use.
Let’s go back to the beginning of life. Hypothetically, infants are born sterile, meaning they have essentially no bacteria in their body. In a society where we have been so trained to be fearful of bacteria and other microorganisms, this may seem like a good thing. In actuality, the healthy human body is filled with good bacteria and this is a major key to health. During birth and rapidly thereafter, maternal bacteria and the surrounding environment colonize the infant’s gut. Immediately after vaginal delivery, babies have bacterial strains in the upper GI tract from the mothers’ feces. Colonization of these important microorganisms begins with birth and breastfeeding and continues through life. For vaginally born infants not treated with antibiotics, it takes up to 1 month for their intestinal flora to be well established. For babies born via c-section, the initial bacterial exposure is most likely from environmental microbes such as the air, other infants, and the nursing staff. Science shows that in this case, the gut flora may be disturbed for up to 6 months. The end result for a healthy developing adult is a mixture of 500 plus different species of bacteria, with only small amounts of yeast and other species like protozoa. About 30 – 40 strains of beneficial bacteria should predominate, keeping a healthy balance. To give you a point of reference, the average human body has about ten trillion cells. There are an estimated ten times that number of microorganisms in the intestines of a healthy adult. Scientists have referred to the bacteria in the body as a virtual organ because the metabolic activity performed by these microorganisms actually exceeds other organs in the body. Now let’s go back to the discussion about the widespread and often repeated use of antibiotics in infants and children.
Oral Antibiotics Destroy Healthy Bacteria
According to the Journal of Infection and Immunology, when oral antibiotics are administered, the total population of bacteria, including beneficial, is reduced by a factor of 1,000. During the first few years of life a child should be consistently building stronger colonies of beneficial bacteria. If, instead the bacteria is being eliminated, this opens the door for disaster. As the good bacteria is killed off, there is the potential that harmful microorganisms will take root and increase rapidly. Killing good bacteria leads to a condition known as dysbiosis or dysbacteriosis, which is the condition of having microbial imbalances on or within the body. Research has shown that yeast are actually stimulated by the antibiotics that kill off all of the bacteria. Yeast may also be stimulated to grow by heavy metals, which make the combination of vaccines and antibiotics a major health problem.