How taking antibiotics in childhood increases the risk of disease
The DIABIMMUNE project tracked 39 Finnish babies from birth up to the age of three. The study involved researchers from the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, Harvard University, the Broad Institute of MIT and Helsinki University Hospital.
Antibiotics linked with less diversity and instability of the gut microbiome
Half of the 39 infants studied were administered from 9 to up to 15 antibiotic treatments during this period. The remaining infants did not receive antibiotics. Stool samples were collected from the 39 children monthly during their first three years of life.
The monthly samples revealed that the infants who received antibiotics had far less diverse and stable intestinal microbiota. The children who did not receive antibiotics had a much more diverse gut microbiome and better overall health.
The key to remember: A lack of diversity in gut microbial populations can cause infants and children to become more prone to illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, obesity and diabetes.
Too many antibiotics are prescribed for no good reason
Key intestinal bacteria keep disappearing from the human gut microbiome as the years go by, and this is linked with antibiotics. While antibiotic treatments do save lives, they are also often unnecessarily prescribed, and with harmful effects. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections, yet they are sometimes prescribed for them.
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The study showed that the infants who received antibiotics within the first three years of life continued to lack microbial diversity and gut health later in life. Another effect of repeated antibiotic treatments is the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains. When this occurs in a compromised gut microbiome, the resistant bacteria can take hold and proliferate.
Optimal gut health is directly influenced by the first three years of life
There are other early life factors that can affect the gut microbiome and future health of children. For example, the gut flora of children born via Caesarean section tend not to be as diverse and healthy as those who undergo a traditional birth.
The first three years of life are crucial to establishing a healthy gut microbiome, after which the baseline adulthood composition stabilizes. The quality of a child’s intestinal microbiota has a profound effect on their immune system and overall health. When the gut microbiome is diverse, the child experiences better nutrient absorption, a stronger metabolism and natural protection against infections.
Going forward, antibiotics should be far more focused and targeted against the infection that is being treated. Natural alternative treatments for bacterial infections should be strongly considered, including vitamin C, colloidal silver, garlic, cranberry and coconut oil.
This applies to persons of all ages, but it is particularly important for gut microbiome health and early development in infants and children.
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