SSM Health Medical Minute – Antibiotics for kids under 2 linked to other illnesses later on

Medical Minute

ST. LOUIS — A recent study showed that antibiotic use in kids under the age of two are more likely to have a number of ongoing illnesses or conditions later in life such as eczema, asthma, food allergies, celiac disease, and problems with weight and obesity.

Dr. Heidi Sallee, a SLUCare pediatrician at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital says there have been lots of concerns with antibiotics and antibiotic resistance. 

“This is a little bit different.  What we know is that when you take antibiotics by mouth, it gets into your whole body and kills germs everywhere, it kills bacteria everywhere.  Including your microbiome, which is your normal bacteria that live on your skin, live in your nose, and live in your gut,” said Dr. Salle.

By altering that normal bacteria it can lead to problems down the road.  Dr. Salee says this study shows an association, meaning if you take more antibiotics there is more known problems later on. 

Dr. Heidi Sallee says prescribing antibiotics is necessary for some common infections such as ear infections, urinary tract infections, and strep throat. 

However, antibiotics should not be prescribed for virus or viral conditions such as cold, flu, and fever without the presence of infection. 

Parents can advocate for their child by asking about types of antibiotics and if they are necessary. 

Dr. Sallee says the pediatric community is aware of the overuse or resistance to antibiotics so pediatricians often look at narrowing the exact type of antibiotic to target the infection.   

Children under 2 tend to get antibiotics more because their head and neck are still developing. 

Dr. Sallee says, “children under 2 also cannot tell you what hurts or what is bothering them, so they tend to get antibiotics more and are more prone to ear infections.  As children grow older, they are able to communicate what’s wrong and are less prone to infection.” 

She says the study shows that antibiotics should not be prescribed ‘just in case’ but only when an infection is present. 

She emphasizes that the study shows “association, not causation of these conditions.”  She says more study needs to be done to prove a causation.  

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The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7pm and FOX 2 News at 9pm.

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