The History of Antibiotic Use
for Ear Infections
Despite the concern of a growing number of doctors, antibiotics are still prescribed for millions of children.
In the mid 1980s, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh carried out a five-year study to compare the effectiveness of using a drug (amoxicillin) to treat otitis media versus no medicine. Half way through the trial, the team ran out of the $17.4 million in grants they had received from the National Institutes of Health. At the request of the lead researcher, Dr. Charles Bluestone, drug companies gave another $3.4 million. Then he changed the study's original design, based upon the assumption that the drugs were proven to be effective. Later, Dr. Bluestone personally received $262,000 from the companies whose drugs he was testing. After this, the use of antibiotic prescriptions increased to become the routine treatment for otitis media.
The co-investigator in the studies was a bio-medical engineer named Erdem Cantekin, who says that Bluestone manipulated the results of the study to favor the antibiotics. "It was a fraudulent study," Cantekin believes, "This isn't a question of scientific interpretation. They made certain changes to make the drugs look better."
He believes that this research bears much of the blame for the overuse of antibiotics, which, in turn, has created "superbugs" that have made the original antibiotics less effective.
- Bluestone study (published without Cantekin's name)
- Wall Street Journal article on Cantekin's whistle blowing and results
Other scientists believe the use of antibiotics for children has played an important part in the increase of autism, PDD (pervasive developmental disorders) and ADHD. In his book, Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD, Dr. William Shaw explains how antibiotics wipe out beneficial bacteria, leadng to yeast overgrowth in the intestinal tract. The yeast produce abnormal by-products which are absorbed into the bloodstream and travel to the brain, altering behavior.