Addressing the root cause of your child’s acid reflux or frequent illnesses instead of a pharmaceutical quick fix could save you and your child bigger headaches down the road — a large study shows antacid and antibiotic use in early childhood significantly raises the risk of developing allergies.
Because children born to moms with autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism are already at higher risk for allergies, autism, and other immune disorders, it’s especially important to address root causes of health symptoms in your children instead of masking symptoms with chronic pharmaceutical use.
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.
All of these symptoms point to an over zealous, dysregulated immune system that puts an individual at high risk for developing an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. If you are a mom who had Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism when you were pregnant, you also could have passed on antibodies to your child. Therefore, it’s vital to address underlying autoimmunity or risk factors for autoimmunity in your child.
Why you must take care of the gut to avoid allergies and immune-based diseases such as Hashimoto’s
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 such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
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 such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
- 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. It could be gut inflammation, a bacterial or yeast infection from an unhealthy gut microbiome, a food sensitivity or allergy, or other reasons.
Also, if a child has reoccurring infections that require antibiotics over and over, again you have to examine underlying causes of immune dysfunction. 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, especially if she had poorly managed Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
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, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, 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 and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.