Antibiotic overuse is a danger to public health, and especially dangerous for pregnant women

 The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is warning the public that antibiotic overuse has the potential to cripple the entire modern medical system.1

spilled pills

Despite public awareness campaigns about responsible use of antibiotics, antibiotics continue to be prescribed for colds, flu, sinusitis and bronchitis. Medical authorities continually warn doctors that antibiotics should NOT be prescribed for routine bronchitis and sinusitis. The scientific studies show that they do not improve outcome.  These are infections that, except in rare instances, are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Plus, these infections resolve by strengthening the immune system with excellent nutrition, not weakening it and creating more serious future infections that can develop as a result of antibiotic use

As inappropriate use of antibiotics continues, more and more resistant microbes will spread, and antibiotics will consequently become less effective. Drug-resistant bacteria emerge from mutations – microbes are constantly mutating, and these mutations eventually cause resistance to antibiotics.

Drug-resistant infections kill about 19,000 people each year in the U.S., and are a significant cost to the healthcare system.1 Drug-resistant bacteria have the potential to compromise our ability to perform procedures for which antibiotics are crucial.

"If this wave of antibiotic resistance gets over us, we will not be able to do organ transplants, hip replacements, cancer chemotherapy, intensive care and neonatal care for premature babies."

- Dominique Monnet, ECDC scientific advice unit1

The dangers of antibiotic overuse extend further than infection alone – all drugs have side effects, and antibiotics are especially toxic, and their side-effects are significant. . Antibiotics kill bacteria indiscriminately – therefore they disrupt our microbial balance, killing the beneficial flora that aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients and keep other microbes at bay. Children who are prescribed more antibiotics in the first year of life are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma and allergies during childhood.3  Antibiotic use has even been linked to a higher incidence of breast cancer.4   

Antibiotics are one of the most common medications taken by pregnant women, and a new study has made connections between antibiotics use during pregnancy and incidence of birth defects. Sulfonamides and nitrofurantoins were each associated with several birth defects – women who took these classes of antibiotics while pregnant were 2-4 times as likely to give birth to a baby with a heart defect. The more commonly used penicillins, eythromycins, and cephalosporins were each associated with at least one birth defect.2  

Antibiotics are not harmless medications and should be reserved for severe (and carefully documented) bacterial infections - infections that would seriously threaten the health of the patient if left untreated. We have powerful immune systems which, when supported by excellent nutrition, will clear the more moderate infections without help from drugs. 

 

References:

  1. http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTRE5A927820091110
  2. Crider KS et al. Antibacterial medication use during pregnancy and risk of birth defects: National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009 Nov;163(11):978-85.
  3. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.
  4. Velicer CM et al. Antibiotic Use in Relation to the Risk of Breast Cancer. JAMA. 2004;291:827-835.

 

Veggies, Now with Fewer Nutrients?

Wow, a new study in the Journal of HortScience claims nutrient composition of fruits and vegetables in the United States has been dropping over the last 50 to 100 years, in some cases median declines of 5% to 40% for minerals, with similar results in protein and vitamins. The studied crops, broccoli and wheat, may be victim of the newly recognized genetic dilution effect, referring to the use of genetic methods to increase crop yield, but consequently dilute nutrient concentrations in crops; from U.S. Food Policy.

More reason to buy organic! Organic fruits and veggies usually have more nutrients than conventional produce. According to Dr. Fuhrman, the theory is when plants are forced to deal with the stress, like insects, they produce more compounds beneficial to humans, like flavonoids. Plus organic tastes better and is better for the environment.

In related news, crops grown in dirt fertilized with livestock manure may actually absorb the antibiotics injected into cattle, helping spawn antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Eek!

Via kottke.

Image credit: Elizabeth Thomsen

Chicken Trucks Spread Bacteria!

A new study in the Journal of Infection and Public Health reveals poultry carriers leave behind a trail of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, putting motorists and individuals living along roads where chicken is transported at risk. Strains of the Enterococcus bacteria, which is harmful to human health, were collected off of test cars after driving behind poultry trucks; The Baltimore Sun reports.

Via TreeHugger.