Too Many Antibiotics Can Pose a Serious Threat to Your Child's Health

   |  Updated: May 15, 2015 11:59 IST

Too Many Antibiotics Can Pose a Serious Threat to Your Child's Health

Health experts and medical professionals have lately been advocating in favour of reducing or curbing the prescription of antibiotics. A couple of major health concerns tied around antibiotics consumptions are the increase in the antibiotic resistant diseases as well as increased consumption of antibiotics - which is leading to other long-term health ailments.

Antibiotics are by far the most common prescription drugs given to children. Most studies have shown profound short- and long-term effects of antibiotics on the diversity and composition of the bacteria in human bodies, called our microbiome.

In the wake of a situation where many bacterial and virus triggered diseases are becoming drug and antibiotic resistant, scientists are posed with a challenge of developing more effective and potent antibiotics. However, researches in the past as well as in today's time, all signal towards mitigating the dependence on antibiotics for reducing susceptibility to other long-term diseases.

Over a year ago researchers from George Washington, Cornell and Johns Hopkins universities discovered a widespread misconception - patients may want antibiotics, even if they know that, if they have a viral infection, the drugs may not make them better.

"These patients might know that there is, in theory, a risk of side effects when taking antibiotics, but they interpret that risk as essentially nil. More than half of the patients we surveyed already knew that antibiotics don't work against viruses, but they still agreed with taking antibiotics just in case," Broniatowski added.

Increasing medical prescription as well consuming on one's own, both add much to the problem.

A recent research published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe suggests possibility of developing long-term health issues in adulthood for kids and infants who are treated with antibiotics. According to the senior author of the study, Dan Knights, assistant professor at University of Minnesota, "Over the past year we synthesised hundreds of studies and found evidence of strong correlations between antibiotic use, changes in gut bacteria, and disease in adulthood."

The study further notes that the some of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics can lead to changes in the gut bacteria of kids and make them vulnerable to infectious diseases, allergies and other autoimmune disorders, and even obesity, later in life said the study's senior author.

How does antibiotics alter our system?

In the current study, the researcher developed a framework to map how antibiotics may be acting in the gut to cause disease later in life.

- In the case of allergies, the use of antibiotics may eradicate key gut bacteria that help immune cells mature.

- Obesity: antibiotic-induced changes in the gut microbiota resulted in increased levels of short-chain fatty acids that affect metabolism.

Summing up

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All in all, the crux of the study highlights the fact that antibiotics primarily tamper with a bunch of things within our bodies including the gut bacteria. Gut bacteria play a vital role in an infant's development as an infant's age could be predicted within 1.3 months based on the maturity of their gut bacteria. The experts see this study as a means to facilitate formulating recommendations for antibiotic usage and a clinical test for measuring gut microbe development in children.

"We think these findings help develop a roadmap for future research to determine the health consequences of antibiotic use and for recommendations for prescribing them," Knights said.


Inputs from IANS and PTI

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Tags:  Antibiotics