Antibiotics and Premature Babies

Michael Smith Blog - Know The Cause
Doug sent me THIS story earlier today. This story hit close to home; my brother was born premature. While it doesn’t seem to have set him back at all (he just recently graduated the University of Texas with a degree in psychology), being born premature puts these kids at risk for all kinds of health problems, both right after they are born and later on in life. 

The article linked above documents some recently published findings on premature babies, notably the lack of diversity in their intestinal tracts when compared with full-term babies. The premature babies were placed on antibiotic treatments following birth (the article isn’t clear whether this measure was prophylactic, or to combat some sort of sickness) – this regimen destroyed the balance of yeast and bacterial cultures in the babies’ guts. Following the treatment, researchers found that the premies’ tracts were slow to replace beneficial bacteria, and the culture that did regrow was a less diverse population of these “good guy” bacterias. As the article stresses, these microbes are vital for immunity and good health.

What they did find, however, was quite the opposite of good bacteria. In the words of one researcher, the “babies’ guts were taken over by microbes we know are dangerous if they enter the blood,” including “tough-to-treat candida” and infection-related death of bowel tissue, called necrotizing enterocolitis. The researchers were unclear about where the babies were picking up these virulent microbes that had grown in their intestinal tracts.

So what we see here are babies of the most vulnerable kind put at an even greater risk due to the routine use of a fungal metabolite. Antibiotics often seem to be dispensed wantonly and without regard to the risks they pose following their use. I think this article underscores a couple points:

1. Antibiotics, while sometimes necessary, aren’t necessarily as safe as their common use would lend us to believe. Antibiotics destroy healthy bacterial cultures in human digestive tracts, and the absence of these cultures lowers human immunity and can put us all at risk for infections of all sorts, including fungal infections. You’ll notice that the fungal infections in these babies were mentioned prominently in the article.

2. Fungus is a ubiquitous and opportunistic organism. The researchers didn’t know where these babies were contracting all the bad bugs that had cultured in their intestinal tracts. The hospital would certainly be a good place to check; nosocomial infections are certainly not unheard of, especially in people with compromised immunity. The combination of being in a hospital and having one of your first lines of defense compromised by antibiotics is a recipe for trouble.

People that aren’t new to Doug’s site know that our exposure to fungal metabolites isn’t limited to hospitals or antibiotics. The fact remains that we are frequently exposed to fungi and their mycotoxins on a daily basis in the things the that we eat or drink and in the air that we breathe. Fungi can affect us all the way they have with these premature babies, and if you want to achieve good health, taking steps to eradicate fungi and their toxins is a good place to start. It is unfortunate that the evidence is seen in these babies, but at the very least, researchers are starting to realize that antibiotics can do as much harm as they do good.

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