Last month the International Journal of Obesity published a report revealing that “infants given antibiotics within six months of birth were 22 percent more likely than those given none to be overweight at age 3.”
This new link to obesity is only the latest study to cast a critical spotlight on the potential long-term effects antibiotics can have on babies. Other studies in recent years have linked antibiotics to the rise of type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma in children.
Why are antibiotics so harmful for babies?
Your baby’s digestive tract is filled with natural, health-promoting goodness known as gut flora. According to the obesity study, prenatal and postnatal exposure to antibiotics kills these natural microbes that facilitate digestion, combat harmful bacteria, and absorb calories, among other things.
As further explained in this Wired article, Martin Blaser of New York University’s Langone Medical Center cautions that by killing off beneficial bacteria, antibiotics can permanently change your baby’s digestive makeup. These permanent changes not only influence weight mass, but can also render your child less resistant to some forms of bacteria and more susceptible to infections and disease.
How anti should you be towards antibiotics?
We still have so much more to learn, but these studies show that your child could suffer life-long repercussions if introduced to antibiotics too soon.
It’s true that the use of antibiotics cannot be avoided in the case of certain dangerous infections, and we’re lucky to live in a time when these powerful drugs are readily available. However, it’s important to prescribe with caution and only when there are no safe alternatives. If infection occurs during pregnancy or within the first 6 months of your baby’s life, whenever possible explore other treatment avenues with your doctor before pursuing an antibiotic medication.
At GetzWell, we always go the extra mile to protect and cultivate your baby’s natural defense mechanisms. Give us a call at 415.826.1701 to learn more about safe antibiotic use and healthy alternatives. We’re here to help!