There’s no doubt about it – antibiotics are a good thing. They save lives every day. We can, in part, attribute our longer lifespans, reduction in infant mortality and childhood deaths from life-threatening infections, and the near elimination of childbirth-related maternal deaths from infections in hospitals to antibiotics. As a medical doctor I am grateful to be able to prescribe them for serious bacterial and other appropriate infections, for example meningitis, kidney infections, and Lyme disease.
As with many things, more is not always better, and this is certainly the case with antibiotics.
Too Many Antibiotics
Antibiotics are being overused. It’s that clear. They are given to about 30% of all women during pregnancy or labor, and these reach the baby through the mom’s blood stream. By 2 years old, 69% of children in the US have received at least one antibiotic course, and the average is 2.3 courses, for ear infections, bronchitis, sore throat, and other common childhood illnesses.
By the time our children are 18 years old, they’ll have taken between 10 and 20 courses of antibiotics, and then another 10-13 rounds of antibiotics in their 20s. So by the time we’re 30 years old, on average, we’ve typically had about 30 rounds of antibiotics. Since each round is typically from 7 to 14 days long, that’s an astonishing potential 300 days – almost a year of their young lives – spent on an antibiotic! The numbers are similarly high for those 60 years old and above.
Shockingly,according to the Centers for Disease Control and other official reports, at least 50% and as many as 70% of the antibiotics prescribed for children for these and other symptoms/conditions are unnecessary and inappropriate. They are prescribed for viral infections that are not even treatable with an antibiotic – and usually just require time and simple support to clear up on their own!
A quick note from our founder:
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