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Addressing the root cause of your child’s acid reflux or frequent illnesses instead of a pharmaceutical quick fix could save you both bigger headaches down the road — a large study shows antacid and antibiotic use in early childhood significantly raises the risk of developing allergies.
Researchers looked at the records of almost 800,000 children born during a 13-year period to families in the military.
Surprisingly, almost 10 percent of the babies were treated with antacids such as Zantac or Pepcid for acid reflux; spitting up is common in infants and does not typically need to be medicated.
Also surprising was that more than half of the children in the study went on to develop allergies, rashes, asthma, or hay fever.
However, the children who received antacids in infancy were twice as likely to develop allergic diseases compared to the rest.
What’s worse is that their risk of developing anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be deadly, was 50 percent higher compared to the non-medicated children.
Children who received antibiotics as babies were twice as likely to have asthma and had a 50 percent higher likelihood of hay fever and anaphylactic allergies.
Why you must take care of the gut to avoid allergies and immune-based diseases
The researchers suggested the negative impact antacids and antibiotics have on gut bacteria, also called the gut microbiome, play a role in the development of allergies and other immune disorders.
Additionally, by neutralizing the acidity of the stomach, which is necessary to break down foods, antacids may be allowing undigested foods into the small intestine. This negatively impacts the gut microbiome and inflames the digestive tract.
The health of the digestive tract and gut microbiome profoundly influences immune health. When the gut is inflamed and damaged and gut bacteria is unhealthy and full of bad bacteria, this predisposes a person to myriad immune-based disorders, including:
- Food sensitivities
- Chemical sensitivities
- Eczema and other skin-based disorders
- Asthma and other respiratory disorders
- Autoimmune diseases
- Brain-based disorders
Look for the root cause of childhood illness
Although spitting is up normal for babies, if a baby is spitting up excessively you have to ask why.
Also, if a child has reoccurring infections that require antibiotics over and over, again you have to ask why.
These are signs that the health of the digestive tract, the gut microbiome, and the immune system are already in distress.
For instance, the child could be eating a food to which they are intolerant, such as gluten or dairy — two primary triggers of immune disorders. The child may have been born with food intolerances or autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks the body) passed on from the mother.
A child born via c-section and fed formula is likely to have a less healthy gut microbiome than a child born vaginally and breastfed. This may predispose a child to excess acid reflux or reoccurring infections.
However, medicating a child with antacids and antibiotics only further destroys the gut microbiome and dysregulates the immune system. This makes the child significantly more prone to immune disorders, such as allergies, anaphylaxis, autoimmunity, asthma, eczema, obesity, and other chronic issues.
The key is to address the underlying causes of an inflamed gut, an unhealthy gut microbiome, and inflammation. Ask my office how functional medicine can help manage these issues.