Some antibiotics may alter children's gut microbiome for up to two years


The parent of a child in my clinic recently told me of her experience with her baby that was recently prescribed a course of antibiotics.  When the mum asked the doctor if the prescription was absolutely necessary she was met with the comments "I'm not sure why you're so worried about them?".  In this day and age when media are constantly reporting on the role the microbiota play in digestive health, children's health and development and mental health and wellbeing, the mum was a bit taken aback from this seemingly outdated comment.  This mum had done her research and I think was right in raising concerns about the use of the antibiotics in a child so young.  In the ABC health news today, again it is reported...

Some types of antibiotics may alter the gut biology of young children for up to two years after they have taken them, according to a study of Finnish children.

This particular study looked at long-term use of antibiotics and gut microbiome in children aged 2-7. They found that the antibiotics used for respiratory infections changed composition of gut flora.  The use of these antibiotics correlated with increased body weight and risk of asthma in the children.  These particular types of antibiotic are known as macrolides.

I suggest considering options other than antibiotics for uncomplicated viral upper respiratory tract infections. Of course seeking the advice from an experienced Naturopath or Herbalist who is able to provide age appropriate advice and medicines.  If antibiotics are the appropriate treatment then using complementary medicines to lessen the impact of them on the microbiota is also ideal.

 I wholeheartedly agree with Professor Tang when he said 

If we truly believe early life changes are the critical moment, it may be that we may need to be much more conservative or the most important time to be conservative with antibiotics is in the first two years of life.

There are often safe, effective options for treatment of simple, uncomplicated and common viral infections in kids and also lots of ways you can work to develop and maintain a healthy biota that builds a strong immune system.  Give me a call if you would like to know what these are, if they might be appropriate for your kids and how you could use them for your family.