It’s no secret that the medical industry is a business. We often don’t think of them this way, especially when we have a sick child and are relying on a doctor or medical staff to help our child feel better.
While doctors have extensive medical training that allows them to diagnose and treat our children’s illnesses, there are some other factors we need to keep in mind about doctors.
- Doctors get sued. A lot. People are panicky when it comes to their own health and the health of their loved ones. If they perceive any mistake on the part of the doctor or hospital, they are quick to blame them for whatever went wrong. Regardless of whether or not it was actually the fault of the doctor. This is just an unfortunate reality in a litigious society. Thus it is in the doctor’s best interest to prescribe something strong and efficient, rather than trying other methods first.
- The pharmaceutical industry and the medical industry work hand-in-hand. The pharmaceutical industry is nothing without doctors to prescribe medicine. Consequently, they make deals with doctors to ensure that they receive a decent amount of prescriptions to fill.
- Doctors have a lot of patients to work through each day, and are constantly being criticized for taking too long. Waiting times in doctors’ offices and ERs are notoriously lengthy, so doctors have to limit the amount of time they spend with any one patient. This means that often a quick fix is often sought after so they can move on to the next person in line.
If you are a parent in America right now, there is a good chance your child has already been prescribed antibiotics at some point in their life. For an ear infection, maybe. Or a severe cold.
During my time working at a daycare, it seemed that antibiotics were the “cure all” for young children. Every time they got sick, the pediatrician would prescribe antibiotics. Parents were happy to go along with this because they didn’t want their children feeling ill, and they wanted something that would work quickly to get them better.
But a plethora of research shows the disastrous effects of given antibiotics flippantly to children from a young age.
Here are some facts and statistics.
According to the CDC, at between 30-50% of antibiotic prescriptions written are unneeded. That’s at least 47 MILLION unnecessary prescriptions per year.
Why is this a problem?
Because bacteria is becoming resistant to antibiotics due to the overuse. That’s right – we are creating drug resistant strains of bacterial illnesses and infections. And people are dying from them.
This is the story of the boy who cried wolf: we use antibiotics so much that when we really need them for a serious, life-threatening illness, they no longer work.
Here is the silliest part. Colds, flu, most sore throats, most ear infections, and bronchitis do not respond to antibiotics. Yep. They are completely useless. Doctors are only prescribing them to help parents rest at ease. These conditions are all caused by viruses.
You don’t have to believe me on this. Believe the CDC.
There are other problems caused by antibiotics that can have a more immediate and direct impact on children.
Tooth enamel decay
There have already been some antibiotics linked with tooth decay, but now studies are being done on amoxicillin, one of the most common antibiotics prescribed for children. It is typically given for ear infections, and one study reported that 91% of the children in their experimental population had taken amoxicillin by 32 months.
Another study found links between enamel decay and children given amoxicillin before 32 months. Eek.
Diaper Rash and Diarrhea
According to Mayo Clinic, antibiotics can also cause diaper rash and diarrhea in young children. Because antibiotics kill bacteria indiscriminately, many of the good bacteria that regulate normal body processes no longer function.
Before giving your child antibiotics, consider whether or not this is a situation serious enough to warrant their use. Many common childhood ailments do not require the use of antibiotics, and they can end up doing more harm than good.
Children will get sick. Their bodies are learning to fight off infections and their immune systems are developing. One of the best ways to keep infants healthy is to breast feed them (read more about the benefits of breast feeding here).
There are certain situations which are severe enough to warrant antibiotics. Be sure to have a full consultation with your doctor about the pros and cons before allowing him to give your child antibiotics. You are your child’s best advocate. You have their best interests in mind.
That being said, what are your thoughts on antibiotics and children?