Thursday, February 11, 2010

Antibiotics Cause Birth Defects: Study Authors Spin It As Reassuring

by Heidi Stevenson

5 February 2010

An Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine study reports an association with antibiotics and severe birth defects, including anencephaly, a defect in which most of the brain is missing. Study authors spin the result as "reassuring".

Lead author Krista S. Crider, PhD, examined data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. 13,155 pregnancies that resulted in one of 30 birth defects were included. They were compared with 4,941 randomly-chosen pregnancies, in the same geographical areas, that resulted in no birth defects.

Telephone interviews determined which mothers had taken antibiotics during the month before conception through the third month of pregnancy. The overall increase in birth defects was about one percent: 14% in birth defect pregnancies and 13% in nondefect pregnancies.

Certain antibiotics were worse than others, but all were associated with some birth defects. The study's authors claim that it's critical to treat infections in pregnant women. Antibiotic use is greater in pregnant women. Antibiotic use in both the defect and nondefect pregnancies was over 29 percent.

Sulphonamides were associated with:

3.4 times more anencephaly (all or most of brain missing)
3.2 times more hypoplastic left heart syndrome (left side of heart severely undeveloped)
2.7 times more coarctation of the aorta (narrowing of the aorta)
2.5 times more transverse limb deficiency (truncated limbs)
8 times more choanal atresia (blockage at the back of the nasal passage)
2.4 times more diaphragmatic hernia (hole in the diaphragm)
Nitrofurantoins were associated with:
3.7 times more anophthalmos or microphthalmos (lack of eye tissue)
4.2 times more hypoplastic left heart syndrome (left side of heart severely undeveloped)
1.9 times more atrial septal defects (hole between the upper heart chambers)
2.1 times more cleft palates
Other antibiotics were associated with:
Erythromycins (2 defects)
Penicillins (1 defect)
Cephalosporins (1 defect)
Quinolones (1 defect)

The Spin

Regarding the rest of the antibiotic groups, the authors wrote:

Reassuringly, penicillins, erythromycins and cephalosporins, although used commonly by pregnant women, were not associated with many birth defects.
Reassuring? How many extra babies born with life-degrading and life-ending defects is acceptable?

Regarding the overall risks of severe birth defects with antibiotic use, the authors state:

This study could not determine the safety of drugs during pregnancy, but the lack of widespread increased risk associated with many classes of antibacterials used during pregnancy should be reassuring.
Just how many brainless and blind babies is too many? How many with breathing problems? How many with defective hearts? How many with missing arms and legs?

Where is the humanity in these researchers? All they call for is more studies. At the very least, they should be clamoring for immediate cessation of all antibiotic use in pregnant, or potentially pregnant, women unless it's a life-threatening situation. There's no concern for the fact that pregnant women are being given far more antibiotics than the general public.

What more is needed before Big Pharma's control over the very structure of medicine is questioned? How many more lives must be destroyed? Keep in mind that not a single one of these babies is counted in medical malpractice statistics.When will modern medicine start to question the idea that harm must be proven beyond any reasonable doubt before a drug or practice is curbed?

How many babies born without eyes are we willing to accept as collateral damage in the real drug war being waged by Big Pharma and modern medicine?

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