Your child develops a fever. In a few hours, you observe that he or she has glazed eyes and swollen glands. In a blind panic, you rush your child to hospital. On examination, the doctor rules out allergies and diagnoses a virus. However, the doctor does not give out a prescription as expected. Contrary to what you may think, the doctor has probably done the baby a favor. This is because antibiotics have been proven to have adverse effects and side effects, which are severe particularly to children. Key among them is allergies, some forms of asthma, diaper thrush, resistance to medication, and more recently obesity.
Notably, antibiotic exposure in utero is an important contributing factor to obesity or excess weight. Those babies born via C-Section are not exposed to their mother’s vaginal microbes and therefore are more likely to be overweight and also have a greater likelihood of having allergies, asthma, or other immune conditions. Common allergies in children include peanut and dairy.
The Danger Antibiotics Pose for Children
Other than allergies and asthma, there are various other concerning health consequences associated with antibiotic usage. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has brought to light the issue that antibiotics might make the infection in your child even worse. In their survey, it was found that children who are given antibiotics are more susceptible a new violent disease causing bacteria known as C. diff. To argue their point even further, it was found that 71% of children that had developed the bacteria had been given medication for ear, nose and respiratory diseases approximately 12 weeks before the infection. Despite antibiotics being the keystone of modern medicine, it is important to note that they permanently alter the human body once ingested. This can lead to a variety of negative responses of the body and a general weakness in the child.
Obesity and Antibiotics: Evidence From Research
Brian Schwartz, professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted research on the relationship between BMI and drug use. A similar experiment was conducted by another group of scientists. Both published their findings in the International Journal of Obesity. A critical analysis of the two research projects brings out the fact that drugs might as well be included as a main contributor to obesity in children.
In retrospect, the above mentioned studies pointed out the fact that use of antibiotics may lead to increased BMI. This may happen to normally healthy children too. Previous studies argued that the increase in BMI only occurred from drug use at a very young age. However, the above studies bring to light that this increase in the body mass index is a progressive chart that may occur even as the child grows older. This weight gain was sometimes seen to continue even after the child had stopped using the drugs.
Scientific Explanation on the Relationship Between Obesity and Drug Use
Following the revelation of the possible linkage between obesity and drug use, it is only natural for the curious mind to look for answers. Hence, scientists have delved into this new topic with much enthusiasm. They have observed microscopic behavior of cells and carried out experimentation. This has led to the development of a generally accepted scientific theory on the relationship.
Bacteria in the human body
Generally, the human digestive system contains bacteria that exist in a symbiotic relationship with the human body. This means that these bacteria play a key role since their activity in the gut make sure that by the end of the digestive process, the person has taken up a balanced diet in terms of nutrients in the body. It has been proven that all drugs taken, excluding supplements, affect good bacteria in the body.
Reactions between bacteria and antibiotics
Further studies show that antibiotics react with bacteria in a non-exhaustible manner similar to enzyme action but in a chemical form. This means that no matter how small the dosage you take, the antibiotic will react with the bacteria in the body anyway. This leads to the conclusion that taking even the smallest dosage of antibiotics into the body will definitely kill a fraction of this good bacteria.
Goodbye, good bacteria
When this good bacteria is killed, the digestive behavior of the person or child will definitely change. This means that the person will not absorb the nutrients in the gut as a normal person would. We know that carbohydrates as the class of food whose digestion is independent of these bacteria. This means that when these bacteria reduce in number, the ratio of the carbohydrates that are absorbed by the body will be more compared to other nutrients. More carbohydrates being absorbed in the body means that the body will have an excess of carbohydrates. As we know, carbohydrates have very limited storage in the body. Thus, carbohydrates are either used up in respiration or converted to fat for storage. Therefore, the body stores up the excess carbohydrates in form of fat.
The mechanism behind obesity
Consequently, the person becomes obese due to an exponential increase in the amount of fat stored in the body. Now, we know that the ratio of consumption of food to body size in adults is much less in adults as compared to children. This in simple terms means that children eat way more compared to adults when body size is taken into factor. Thus, the younger the child is, the more the excess carbohydrates consumed hence the higher likelihood of obesity.
Why are you less susceptible to being obese if you take less drugs, rather than more?
Also, the number of bacteria in the child is way less as compared to the adult and is more more susceptible to attack by other agents. All through this explanation, one is bound to ask: If it is indeed true that drug use brings about obesity, how come that one who takes less drugs is less susceptible compared to the one who takes more? The answer is simple. When you take drugs in small dosage to a certain point, the bacteria killed may be less. Thus weight gain is less also. So, after the body detoxifies, the bacteria may multiply and go back to the normal number hence the weight gain is minimal. However, drugs taken in large dosage may lead to death of many bacteria thus the chance of the number ever going back to the original level being minimal. This leads to much greater weight gain. The fact that more than half of the antibiotics taken into the body do not get used up in killing the intended pathogens poses an even a higher risk of obesity emerging among kids.
Sourced from: time
Featured Image Source: Source: Thinkstock/Wavebreakmedia Ltd