The Price Children Pay for Antibiotics.
The following article is taken from "Alternatives" magazine, Issue Sept. 2000, pg. 117
Knoxville, Tennessee - The number of children diagnosed with a problem called pyloric stenosis seems to have been increasing over the last couple of decades. The problem involves an overgrowth of muscle tissue at the pyloric valve where the stomach empties into the small intestine. An obstruction here can cause forceful projectile vomiting after eating , resulting in dehydration and failure to gain wait. Unfortunately ,the only viable solution seems to be surgery. I had a nephew who suffered from this condition and had problems eating, holding down his food and gaining weight. The problem persisted for years until it was finally diagnosed and corrected with surgery.
Until recently, the medical community generally considered pyloric stenosis to be a malformation that people were born with, which couldn't be prevented. Some new research, however, sheds a completely different light on the subject. Recently, about 200 infants came into contact with a hospital worker infected with pertusiss. As a means of prevention, the infants were given the antibiotic erythromycin. Seven of the infants ( roughly 3.5 percent ) later developed infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis ( IHPS ). In a similar group of infants not given the antibiotic, no cases of IHPS occurred. (JAMA 00; 283(4):4712) It now appears that erythromycin somehow increases the risk of developing pyloric stenosis. I have also learned that my nephew was given antibiotics routinely for recurrent ear infections in his early childhood.
It never ceases to amaze me how the medical profession and the public in general have been led to believe that antibiotics and dozens of other drugs are harmless. And this blind acceptance is increasing as more and more formerly prescription-only drugs are being sold over-the-counter. I cant understand how any drug deemed dangerous enough to require a physicians prescription can suddenly become safe for over-the-counter sale once its patent expires. I guess there are two lessons we can learn from the pyloric stenosis episode. First, hospitals are dangerous places to be. Second, we shouldn't make the assumption that , just because a drug is widely prescribed and has been used for years, it is harmless.
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