functional medicine infants gut healthAccording to new research published last Friday in Gastroenterology, researchers found that administration of three or more courses of antibiotics before children reach an age of 2 years is associated with an increased risk of early childhood obesity.

Antibiotics have been used to promote weight gain in livestock for several decades and this research confirms that antibiotics have this same effect in humans. This does not mean antibiotics should not be used when necessary. However, healthcare providers as well as parents must think about their usage in infants in the absence of confirmed indications.

In this study, researchers conducted a large cohort study in the UK to assess the association between antibiotic exposure before the age of 2 and obesity at age 4 years. Children who had antibiotic exposure had a 25% increase in the risk of early childhood obesity. This risk was strongest with repeated exposures to antibiotics.

This is another study that confirms how antibiotics alter the composition the gut microbiome and its function predisposing children to obesity just as seen in livestock and animal models.

There was a previously study published back in November which demonstrated how a single course of antibiotics could alter the gastrointestinal microbiome for up to one year.

Antibiotics are prescribed in approximately 49 million pediatric outpatient visits per year in the United States. Many of these antibiotics are prescribed without clear indication although there is a stronger awareness of antibiotic resistance and other risks such as dermatologic and allergic concerns as well as increased risks of inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune conditions.

If a patient is prescribed a course of antibiotics, it is crucial they concurrently take a probiotic
such as Saccharomyces boulardii. This non-pathogenic yeast that protects the microbiome during antibiotic therapy. S. boulardii is protective to the intestinal epithelial cells and maintaining intestinal barrier function. It also increases SIgA secretion, directly inhibits colonization of harmful bacteria, and restores normal intestinal function in patients with diarrhea.

With the growing levels of antibiotic resistance and exit of major pharmaceutical companies from antibiotic development really makes phage therapy another great treatment option for the growing number of untreatable infections. They have a 80 to 90 percent success rate against bacteria likely to show antibiotic resistance, such as Escherichia coli.

In addition, there are many botanical extracts, essential oils, and silver that have a long history of antimicrobial properties while being relatively sparing to the beneficial bacteria that should be considered.

Source: Frank I. Scott, Daniel B. Horton, Ronac Mamtani, Kevin Haynes, David S. Goldberg, Dale Y. Lee, James D. Lewis. Administration of Antibiotics to Children Before Age 2 Years Increases Risk for Childhood Obesity. Gastroenterology, 2016; DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2016.03.006

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