Prescription drugs can save lives – that is indisputable – but as guardians we must also recognise that the over-use of drugs may in fact damage the health of our children. Drug companies earn billions of dollars each year by successfully breeding fear into our parental decisions. With clever marketing (such as using popular celebrity endorsements), they encourage us to forget how harmless – and indeed potentially beneficial – many childhood illnesses are.
The blind faith that many people have in prescription and over-the-counter drugs is ill-deserved and largely due to elaborate marketing strategies by drug companies.
With today’s 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. Yet 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.
Over the last few years we have started to see a rise in consumer scepticism. Government regulation bodies and parents now realise antibiotics are most 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 are instead designed to fight bacterial infections.
Research tells us that children who have been regularly exposed to antibiotics will generally suffer more from tonsillitis and otitis media (ear infections).One study suggests that, “Children using amoxycillin (antibiotics) for earaches suffered two to six times more recurrent infections. Children treated with antibiotics for streptococcal tonsillitis suffered two to eight times more recurrence.”1
While 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.2 There are countless other studies which question the cost:benefit ratio of many household drugs.
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?
Just as your body knows how to heal a cut, it also knows how to fight bugs and bacteria. Childhood illnesses are normal developmental steps for building a healthy immunity. Whenever the immune system deals successfully with an infection, it emerges from the experience stronger and better able to confront similar threats in the future.
If we interfere with the innate intelligence of the body by consistently lowering a child’s 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. Sadly many of us are unaware that over the counter and prescription drugs may act as immuno-toxins that assault the immunity of our children.
As a conscientious parent, the side-effects of common-place drugs warrant our serious attention. There are many ways to nourish our child’s immune system and the stronger their immunity, the healthier they will be. General protection comes from clean fresh air, good nutrition and lifestyle habits we encourage.
There are many safe and proactive steps which parents can take before resorting to pharmaceuticals. Here are three simple steps;
1. Surround yourself with like-minded people – keeping abreast of healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices is much easier when you are supported.
2. Remember that you cannot measure health by symptoms.
It is important that we appreciate that not all symptoms are bad. When you are fatigued or run down and you catch the ‘flu’, the generalised aches and sinus headaches are useful symptoms that encourage you to slow down and rest. Likewise with food poisoning, the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea rid the body of unwanted pathogens. This is the mind and body communicating perfectly.
Ask yourself this: if a person in pain takes a pill and the pain goes away, does this mean he or she is healthy again? Contrary to popular drug marketing, headaches are not caused by the body’s lack of paracetamol! Nor is lower back pain created through a deficiency in ‘anti-inflammatory drugs’. When our body experiences symptoms, we need to consider the cause.
Health cannot be measured by how we feel but rather how well our body is coping with the stressors we place on it. Real health involves quality nutrition and sleep, exercise, minimising toxins, reducing stress, a well functioning nervous system and positive, happy thoughts.
These same principles apply for the little people in our life; our children’s health is no less important than our own. Your child’s health is their greatest asset.
3. Establish a Health Framework for your family.
It is highly beneficial to incorporate wellness practitioners who support and inspire your health choices. There is great comfort in having your chiropractor, osteopath naturopath and/or homeopath available in times of health and ill health.
Chiropractors and other holistic practitioners aim to support the natural defence systems of the body. We see childhood illnesses as essential stepping stones to building a strong and healthy immune system.
By consistently lowering a child’s temperature with Paracetamol for example, we compromise their ability to fight infections, tax their constitution with a synthetic compound and render them less able to independently fight subsequent infections. By giving our children drugs, we continue to challenge their health and expose them to an array of unknown toxic side-effects. A strong immune system is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.
1 Schmidt M. Schmidt L. Sehert K. Beyond Antibiotics. Berkeley:North Atlantic Books;1993.
2 Developmental Delay Registry. Antibiotic use and brain damage in Children. Townsend Letter for Doctors:1995.