FHN Complementary Medicine Monthly Newsletter February 2007
Is there something parents can do to change whether their children will get asthma? Babies who received a course of antibiotics during the first six months of life are 2.5 times more likely than their peers to have developed asthma by age 7, according to a Henry Ford Health System study. And babies who took even one round broad-spectrum antibiotics were 8.9 times more likely to acquire asthma. The study, presented at the European Respiratory Society's September 2003 annual conference, and reported by Reuters Health, also demonstrated a link between infants antibiotic use and other allergic diseases such as eczema. Recent controlled studies showing that giving probiotics (active cultures of beneficial bacteria) lowers the risk of allergic disease suggest that these data point to antibiotics actively raising the risk.
A study in the Journal of Pediatrics (November 2004 Volume 145, Number 6) showed Children with atopic dermatitis (AD) have increased intestinal permeability, thought to be due to increased mucosal inflammation. The investigators demonstrated that administration of probiotics could reduce eczema in patients with AD.The trial also reviewed whether administration of probiotics could reduce gastrointestinal symptoms.
The investigators concluded that the gut mucosal barrier is less effective for patients with AD and can be improved with the use of probiotic bacteria and GI symptoms could be reduced. Antibiotics reduce the gut mucosal barrier. If antibiotics are important to give, ask for the most narrow-spectrum choice that would work (antibiotics that kill the desired bacteria, and as few of the bystander bacteria as practical). Whenever a child needs antibiotics, We suggest giving probiotics to replenish the diversity of beneficial bacteria.
In children under 2 the bifido bacterias predominate and should be in the probiotic that is given. After 2 years of age lactobacillus strains predominate and should be the majority of what is given.
Drs. Glenn and Julie Smith