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Antibiotic Backlash

Consequences of Antibiotic Overuse Affecting Pregnant Women

Study finds a possible association between birth defects and certain antibiotics.

Study finds a possible association between birth defects and certain antibiotics.

Just weeks away from ringing in the holiday season, it’s that time of year for cold and flu season as well.  And just as people procrastinate on their Christmas purchases, a number of people procrastinate on arming themselves with the natural herbs they need to ward off illness.  “I’ll just get an antibiotic if I get sick,” they dismissively say.  But a new study written in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine explains why this dismissive mentality is a really bad idea, particularly if you’re pregnant.

Researchers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention collected health data from over 13,000 pregnant women and their babies in 10 states, with a particular focus on whether the frequency of their antibiotic use during pregnancy correlated with birth defects.  To find out, they compared the use of antibiotics among women that had babies with birth defects with women who didn’t have babies with birth defects.  Both groupings took antibiotics at various points throughout their pregnancy.

While the researchers didn’t find a higher incidence of birth defects among women and babies that used antibiotics like penicillin, there was some evidence to suggest that birth defects result from lesser-known antibiotics.  The culprits? Sulfonamides and nitrofurantoins.

Women that took sulfonamides, an antibiotic most commonly used for treating urinary tract infections, were three times more likely to have babies with malformed skulls and brains; while women that took nitrofurantoions were twice as likely to have babies with eye and heart defects.  Nitrofurantoins are another kind of antibiotic prescribed for urinary tract infections.

The researchers are hesitant to pinpoint these antibiotics as the cause for the birth defects (as I often say, correlation does not imply causation), but their results indicate doctors shouldn’t be so cavalier about prescribing them, particularly to pregnant women.

Again the study is published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The use of antibiotics has skyrocketed in this country.  While there’s no question that hundreds if not thousands of diseases have become treatable through antibiotics, there’s also no question that their overuse has made diseases less treatable.  Appealing to patients’ “Give me something to feel better” mentality, doctors have handed out prescriptions like candy, and nature (i.e., microbes) has taken advantage.  Because just as the body’s immune system adapts to its environment, microbes adapt to their environment.  So when antibiotics are overused or improperly used—like when farmers add them to healthy animals’ feed to spur growth, or when doctors prescribe them to people who have non-bacterial infections—that’s more opportunity for bacteria to adapt to their environment and become more resistant to treatment in the process (forming the so-called “superbug”).

To say nothing of the side-effects that result from antibiotic use, the consequences of their overuse is the primary reason why natural antibiotics should be your primary option for treating infections.  What you choose depends on the nature of your disease.  For example, if your infection is bacterial (e.g., urinary tract infections, strep throat, etc.) choose herbs like garlic* and pau d’arco.  For fungal infections (e.g., yeast infections, athlete’s foot, etc.) look for supplements with myrrh, thyme, pumpkin or barberry bark in them.  And for viral infections (e.g., chicken pox, common cold, etc.), your best defense is with St. John’s wort, aloe vera and elderberry.

(Note*:  While garlic is great for bacterial infections, it’s also effective for viral and fungal infections).

Sources:
sciencedaily.com
health.usnews.com
cdcfoundation.org
keepantibioticsworking.com
home-remedies-that-work.com

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  3. The Birth Defect That May Hinge on a Binge: Study: Binging While Pregnant Doubles, Even Triples Oral Cleft Risk
  4. Increased C-Sections & Pre-Mature Babies
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