“All prescribed and over-the-counter drugs are high-risk substances for an infant.” DR TREVOR SMITH

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Antibiotics are often inappropriately prescribed, i.e. they are prescribed for viral conditions such as colds and measles that will not be improved by antibiotic therapy, which is instead designed to fight bacterial infections.
  • Children who have been regularly exposed to antibiotics will generally suffer more from tonsillitis and otitis media (ear infections). An Australian publication cited a publication by American doctors which states that, “Children using amoxycillin (antibiotics) for earaches suffered 2–6 times more recurrent infections. Children treated with antibiotics for streptococcal tonsillitis suffered 2–8 times more recurrence.”1
  • Dairy products commonly carry residues of antibiotics, steroid hormones andpesticides.2 These chemicals are used in abundance in modern farming and they can weaken immunity.
  • Wheezing can develop following several prescriptions for antibiotics, erythromycin in particular.3 If exacerbated by still more prescriptions, this wheezing can develop into asthma.
  • An association between antibiotic exposure and asthma is accepted by the medical profession, namely the Department of Social Security and the Health Department of Australia.4
  • Exposure to antibiotics is known to cause asthma in certain occupational situations, e.g. the pharmaceutical industry. This is recognised by the British Government, which provides written warning and financial compensation for victims.
  • A survey by the Developmental Delay Registry of children between the ages of one and 12 found that children who had taken more than 20 cycles of antibiotics were 50% more likely to suffer developmental delays.5
  • Some antibiotics are nephrotoxic, causing a functional or structural change in the kidneys. Bed wetting that occurs soon after an exposure to antibiotics may be indicative of kidney damage caused by antibiotics.6

TOO CLEAN FOR OUR OWN GOOD!

Over the last few decades, western society has become obsessed with cleanliness. Todays houses and schools are filled with antibacterial cleaning products, bleaches and solvents, yet the number of asthma and allergy sufferers continues to rise. Dr Peter Dingle, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science at Murdoch University in WA, believes that, “The overuse of too many domestic chemicals is one cause for an increase in allergies. Childhood immune systems are exercised via infections picked up in the classroom, but it is man-made chemicals that can overburden the immune system, without actually exercising it or giving it the experiences it needs.”7 He continues by saying that, “Many of these domestic chemicals should be avoided”.

The chemicals he discusses that may be detrimental to our childrens health include foaming agents such as sodium laurel/laureth sulphate and sorbolene-based cream (containing petrochemicals, used in many cosmetics), cocamide (used as a surfactant or cleaner), ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid (EDTA – a binding agent) and bleaches. Are your children unnecessarily repeatedly exposed to such chemicals?

We have been socialised to believe that we must keep our home and work environment germ-free, yet science has demonstrated that our immune competence is strengthened through exposure to bacteria. If we do not allow our body the opportunity to exercise and test itself, our immune system will remain weak.

ARE DRUGS THE ANSWER?

With todays profuse advertising for drugs, when a child is unwell most parents look upon pharmaceutical products as a torch in the dark, a reputable saviour. We often gain security from smart packaging and advertising.

Do we allow our children the opportunity to strengthen their immunity or do we panic at the first sign of an infection and reach for antibiotics? When our child has a runny nose, a temperature or an earache, do we run for a prescription?

Unfortunately, most of us have little appreciation of the nature of the chemical compounds found in these commonplace drugs. Potentially harmful chemicals are often prescribed unnecessarily for minor, self-limiting ailments. Antibiotics in particular are extremely powerful and should be reserved for the rare occasions that require them.

If we interfere with the innate intelligence of the body by consistently lowering a childs temperature, we can compromise their immune system and make them less capable of mounting immune responses in the future. Inexperienced immunities then take offence to natural allergens, rendering the child susceptible to chronic illness.

Dr. Andrew Thornton commented in The British Medical Journal8 that, “The decision by practitioners to prescribe is greatly influenced by the doctor-patient relationship.” His comments are supported by an article in The Journal of Paediatrics,9 which showed that when a physician thought that a parent wanted an antibiotic for their child, she would write a prescription and give a bacterial diagnosis, even though clinical signs indicated that the condition was viral. The demand for antibiotics is affected by the consumers knowledge, attitudes and practices. Surveys showed how a patients expectations and a physicians perception of those expectations affect the physicians prescribing behaviour.

The overuse of antibiotics and the concern for antimicrobial resistance has caused alarm in the US.

Studies (10) were initiated to estimate the level of misguided beliefs and expectations surrounding antibiotics and the degree of awareness of the associated health risks. One survey found that of the respondents who had recently taken antibiotics:

  • 27% believed that taking antibiotics when they had a cold made them feel better more quickly.
  • 32% believed that antibiotics prevented more serious threats.
  • 48% expected a prescription for antibiotics when seeking medical attention.
  • 58% were not aware of the dangers of antibiotic use.

Evidence collated from these surveys has prompted educational interventions directed at patients and clinicians to increase patient awareness and reduce the frequency of prescription.(11)
References:

1) Schmidt M. Smith L. Sehnert K. Beyond Antibiotics. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books; 1993.
2) i. Weil A MD. Natural Health, Natural Medicine. Great Britain: Warner Books; 1995.
ii. Cohen R. Milk; The Deadly Poison. Boston: Argus Publishing; 1997.
3) i. Landymore-Lim L. Poisonous Prescriptions -Antibiotics cause Asthma. Subiaco: PODD; 1994.
ii. Antibiotic use in Infancy Linked to Increased Risk of Asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 1999;29:766-771.
4) Landymore-Lim L. Poisonous Prescriptions -Antibiotics cause Asthma. Subiaco: PODD; 1994.
5) Developmental Delay Registry. Antibiotic use and brain damage in children. Townsend Letter for Doctors: 1995.
6) Landymore-Lim L. Poisonous Prescriptions -Antibiotics cause Asthma. Subiaco: PODD; 1994.
7) Dingle P Dr. Dangerous Beauty; Cosmetics and Personal Care. Cited in: Hunter-Thompson D. Immune Systems Go. International Wellbeing: Issue 96; 2004.
8) Thornton A Dr. Antibiotic Prescriptions. Cited in: Maginness G Dr. (2001). C4K Chiropractic for Kids. Paediatrics Research. [CD-ROM]. Available: [email protected] [2001].
9) i. May A. Bauchner H. Fever phobia: the paediatrician’s contribution. Paediatrics. 1992;90:851-4
ii. Finkelstein JA. Christiansen CL. Platt R. Fever in paediatric primary care: occurrence, management, and outcomes. Paediatrics. 2000;05(1Pt 3):260-6.
ii. Barden LS. Dowell SF. Schwartz B. Lackey C. Current Attitudes Regarding Use of Antimicrobial Agents: Results from Physicians and Patients Focus Group Discussions. Clin Paediat. 1998;37:655-671.
10) Vanden EJ. Marcus R. Hadler JL. Imhoff B. Vugia DJ. Cieslak P. et al. (2003). Consumer Attitudes and Inappropriate use of Antibiotics. [Online]. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol9no9/02-0591.htm
[2005].
 
Dr. Jennifer Barham-Floreani
Bach.App. Clinical Sci. and Bach. Chiropractic