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Parents: How Smart Are You About Antibiotics?

As Harvard Health Publications announces National Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, the medical school is urging parents to learn more about antibiotics, what they can and cannot do, and what some of the dangers (side effects) of antibiotics are.

Many people are under the mistaken belief that just because your doctor prescribed a drug for you that it must be safe and fine to use. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially with antibiotics, as all drugs have limitations and side effects. Antibiotics, for example, disrupt your gut bacteria, paving the way for growth of other pathogens beyond the ones they’re treating.

And while reducing unnecessary use of antibiotics in humans is important, one of the worst offenders is industrial agriculture. Eighty percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used by industrial agriculture for purposes of growth promotion and preventing diseases that would otherwise make their concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) unviable.

As it stands, CAFOs remain hotbeds for breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria because of the continuous feeding of low doses of antibiotics to the animals, which allows pathogens to survive, adapt and, eventually, thrive. Other countries have already shown that it's quite possible to run a profitable livestock business without routine use of antibiotics. It’s time to stand up and demand that livestock operations in America end their antibiotic use as well.

You can help yourself and your community by purchasing only antibiotic-free meats and other foods and using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary.
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