Antibiotics and children’s intestinal flora

When your child is sick and wakes up in the middle of the night crying out in pain, your only concern is making your baby feel better, fast! But at what cost?

Children's Health | Cold and Flu

Sonia Chartier

11 February 2020

Short-term effects of antibiotic use in children

While it's true that antibiotics can kill bad bacteria that pose a threat to your health, they also kill off the good bacteria and disrupt your digestive system at the same time. This can in turn cause unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea and yeast infections.

Research has shown that the earlier children are exposed to antibiotics, the greater the negative impact on their overall health. According to a study published in June 2016 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, it takes a year or two to restore the proper balance of intestinal flora, which in children is completely thrown off by a single course of antibiotics.

Long-term effects of antibiotic use in children

By eliminating beneficial bacteria, antibiotics increase the risk of chronic diseases, asthma and allergies. What's more, a 2017 study conducted at the University of Auckland found an increased incidence of behavioural issues and depressive symptoms in subjects who had been treated with antibiotics early in life.

Another New Zealand study showed that the first three years of life are critical in establishing a healthy microbiome—that's the community of good bacteria that live in the intestine, on the skin and elsewhere in the body. According to the study, taking antibiotics at a young age may interfere with the developing microbiome, leading to permanent changes in the immune system and the body's metabolism.

Echinaforce® and avoiding the overuse of antibiotics in children

While no medication has yet been found to replace antibiotics, certain preventive natural remedies can help keep their use to a minimum.
Echinaforce® Junior, an extract of fresh, organic Echinacea purpurea can go straight to the source to substantially reduce the underlying causes leading to the prescription of antibiotics.

For centuries, echinacea has been known and used to assist the immune system and prevent colds and flu. A study presented in May 2018 at the University Hospital of Zürich came to some very interesting conclusions that could possibly lead to reduced antibiotic use.

Echinaforce® Junior reduces the risk of complications such as sinusitis, bronchitis and pneumonia by 65%.

The clinical trial, which involved 203 children aged four to 12 under the supervision of 13 pediatricians, was a world first.
Its results highlighted the effectiveness of Echinaforce® Junior in preventing respiratory infections and lowering the risk of complications such as sinusitis, bronchitis and pneumonia by 65%.

In another major revelation, the researchers observed a 76% reduction in antibiotic use in subjects who took Echinaforce® Junior.

A study conducted in 2012 on the same type of echinacea found that the plant was safe to use for up to four months. Used preventively, echinacea can boost the immune system of very young children and reduce the frequency of colds and flu by more than 50%.
If your child is a picky eater, don't worry: Echinaforce® Junior comes in the form of chewable tablets with a natural orange flavour—they're delicious and won't cause cavities.

Where do antibiotics come from and what are the potential problems?

The first modern antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered by Alexander Fleming, a Scottish scientist who noticed by chance that the fungus Penicillium rubens produced a substance capable of killing Staphylococcus bacteria.

Unfortunately, antibiotics aren't always used correctly. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics has led to a serious global public health emergency: antibiotic resistance. This means that many life-threatening bacterial infections have become more difficult or even impossible to treat.

A report by an expert committee formed by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) revealed that in 2018 in Canada, 26% of infections were resistant to antimicrobials generally prescribed as the first line of treatment for infections, and that this could rise to 40% or more in the coming decades.
Bächler, A., Feldhaus, S., Lang, G., Klein, P., Suter, A., Schoop, R. Dose-dependency of Echinacea in the treatment of acute common colds in children 4–12 years. Swiss Association for Paediatrics (SSP), poster, May 24, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Ogal M., Klein P., Schoop R. Echinacea for the Prevention of Respiratory Tract Infections in Children 4–12 years: A Randomized, Blind and Controlled Study.
Swiss Association for Paediatrics (SSP), poster, May 24, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinaforce® for long-term prevention of colds and flu. Jawad M1), Klein P2), Eccles R1) Common Cold Centre and Healthcare, Cardiff University, UK. Hobbs, M.R., Grant, C.C., Ritchie, S.R., Chelimo, C., Morton, S.M.B., Berry, S., Thomas, M.G.
Antibiotic consumption by New Zealand children: exposure near-universal by the age of five years. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy published online: doi: 10.1093/jac/dkx060