While giving children penicillin may ward off dangerous infections, new research has come to light about negative developmental effects. In a study by McMaster University in Ontario, researchers found that giving young children the antibiotic causes them to have more aggressive tendencies later on in life.
By altering the delicate environment of the gut bacteria, penicillin affected the brain on a chemical level in the study's tests on mice. This has sparked concerns in parents that penicillin negatively influences normal brain development.
Dr John Bienenstock said: "We report low-dose penicillin taken late in pregnancy and in early life of mice offspring, changes behavior and the balance of microbes in the gut. While these studies have been performed in mice, they point to popular increasing concerns about the long-term effects of antibiotics."
Although the study's findings are concerning, researchers claim that giving children a probiotic will counter the negative effects of penicillin. Bienenstock is careful not to be too optimistic though, because he says antibiotics like penicillin can be found in our food supply and can be passed from mother to her unborn child.
Many other studies have shown a link between the stomach and the brain, although more research is needed to confirm exactly how gut bacteria affects mood and normal development.
What do you think? Is penicillin worth the risk or should we look for alternative ways to treat infections in children?