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Immunological Maturation

Immunological Maturation

Did you know...

...that your body has an immunity community?
The microbiota is a community of microorganisms mainly composed of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that inhabit the body.
It is estimated that there are as many individual microbes colonizing a person as there are cells in their body.
Within the gastrointestinal tract microorganisms help to digest food and supply energy, they produce essential vitamins and create a protective barrier against colonization by harmful bacteria.
We are highly dependent on these microbial communities for our health.
...that the first 3 years are the most important to build this community?
Colonization by these essential microorganisms begins immediately upon birth and continues throughout life.
One of the most crucial periods for the establishment of our microbiota is during the early years of life.
Approximately 70% of the immune system resides in the GI tract and during the first three years of life the immune system is adapting to a diverse commensal microbiota, in addition to distinguishing harmful microorganisms.
If not properly trained initially, the immune system can misdirect immune responses toward benign organisms, as well as ourselves.
These misdirected attacks can lead to long term health consequences, such as inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, obesity, allergies, and gastrointestinal pathologies.
Delays in the development of an adult-like microbiota during the first three years of life may lead to life-long fundamental deficits in the training and functioning of the immune system.
...that antibiotics can negatively affect this community?
Anything that might interrupt the maturation of the microbiota and immune system should be avoided.
Breast feeding and proper diet help in the establishment and development of a healthy microbiota. Yet, this developmental process can be disrupted through the use of antibiotics.
Antibiotics indiscriminately kill both harmful and beneficial bacteria. As such, antibiotics can also negatively effect the microbiota.
When needed, antibiotics can be an effective treatment against harmful pathogens and are an essential medical tool.
...that half of the antibiotics prescribed to pediatric patients aren't necessary?
Unfortunately, it is estimated that up to 50% of the antibiotics administered to pediatric patients are done so needlessly and inappropriately.
Repeated dosing with antibiotics can lead to substantial delays in the development of the microbiota, and/or permanent perturbations.
Given the importance of the intestinal microbiota and its interplay with the immune system it is critical that this delicate, early-life, tuning process not be unnecessarily perturbed.
Prior to or during the administration of antibiotics it should be ascertained whether these powerful agents are actually warranted in an effort to forestall inappropriate usage and reduce the incidence of antibiotic-associated complications.

Talk to your physician about how to properly diagnose and treat your child, especially in these early years.

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Pediatric Immune System Maturation

For a more comprehensive look at Pediatric Immune System Maturation, click the link to download an overview authored by Dr. Joel Peek.

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