I will admit that most doctors don’t actually read medical journals. They may subscribe, but that doesn’t mean that they actually read them.
There are some specialists I tend to be more critical of when it comes to staying current with the medical research, but pediatricians usually top the list. Not only do they (I am using the term “they” here in a general sense–certainly there are top-notch pediatricians out there who have actually cracked a medical journal in the past 5 years…) not do things that are supported in the medical literature (like using vitamin D and probiotics to fight off infections), but they continue to recommend damaging treatments for infants IN THE FACE of medical literature that shows these interventions are therapeutically worthless and potentially very harmful.
Two perfect examples are:
- The use of acid-blocking drugs in infants. A recent study found that, out of a group of 567 pediatricians surveyed, only 1.8% followed guidelines. A full 82% were overprescribing this class of drugs in infants. All of this in light of research that is at least 6 years old finding that these prescriptions are used inappropriately.
- Antibiotic use in infants for conditions that are self-limiting. The most notorious of these being ear infections. Despite over THIRTY years of research screaming not to use antibiotics for this condition, pediatricians still aren’t getting the message.
Quite frankly, this is atrocious and inexcusable. Worse, these two treatments can produce irreparable harm to the little infant’s immune system. And yet, despite this, there was a recent article online about the treatment of bed wetting in children by chiropractors (based on several websites, NOT any type of study), slamming the treatment as being unscientific.
Talk about glass houses.
So what does all of this have to do with this particular article?
In it, researchers looked at the makeup of the bacteria in the gut of a group of 48 Bangladeshi infants at 6, 11, and 15 weeks of age and evaluated how the blend of bacteria in the gut affected the response to four different vaccinations: Oral polio virus (OPV), Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG-for tuberculosis), Tetanus toxoid (TT) and Hepatitis B virus.
The vaccines were then checked for effectiveness (using specific T-cell proliferation for all four, the delayed-type hypersensitivity skin-test response for BCG, and IgG response for OPV, TT, and hepatitis B virus). Here’s what they found:
- The presence of the bacteria Actinobacteria and B longum subspecies infantis led to a stronger immune response with vaccination.
- However, the presence of Enterobacteriales, Pseudomonadales and Clostridiales led to a weaker vaccine response.
Here’s the kicker. Antibiotic use has a tendency to increase the presence of the Clostridiales family of bacteria and throw off the balance of an infant’s gut. Herein lies to ultimate conundrum: Most pediatricians are militant about giving infants and children every vaccination recommended by the CDC and refuse to even consider that this might not be the best course of action for your little one’s health. At the same time, pediatricians have been very slow to adopt a policy that limits antibiotic use in all but the most serious of conditions.
It seems likely that these two practices negatively affect one another. The pediatrician who is staying current with all the research in his or her field (arguably, given that our knowledge of health is constantly changing, this is the ONLY acceptable type of pediatrician to take your child to) will understand that the unnecessary antibiotic may actually affect how well a vaccination works and avoid them as much as possible.
And NOT avoid antibiotics because he or she has a concern about “antibiotic resistance” but because antibiotics completely disrupt the delicate balance of the developing immune system of your little one. When you find THIS pediatrician, stick with him or her.