Unintended Consequences

Thank you for a very interesting and informative article (“Microbiome Therapies,” by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, August 21, Prime).

What I liked about this article was that it honestly admitted something unexpected that has happened to us as a result of a lifesaving medical discovery—antibiotics.

Antibiotic overuse has resulted in super-bugs that are antibiotic-resistant, as the article explains. But how did this happen?

This happened because people (and both doctors and patients are guilty here) did not believe in the law of unintended consequences.

But it is a law.

Every time we (individuals, but especially governments or large and powerful institutions like modern medicine) do something good in order to achieve an intended result, there are also unintended consequences. If we humbly acknowledge that law and work with it, we won’t end up where we are today with superbugs and many of the problems Siegel-Itzkovich describes.

Many years ago when my children were small I was sitting in my doctor’s office with one of my kids. The doctor was telling me that even though he knows that antibiotic overuse is causing immunity to it for individuals and superbugs for society, and even though he knows that the patient before me did not really need antibiotics, he prescribed them for her anyway because she deeply desired it. And in fact she became angry and demanding with the doctor when he suggested she didn’t need it. She believed the antibiotics would make her feel better fast and she didn’t care or believe in any unintended consequences in the far distant future, for herself or for society.

I know some adults today who are in bed approximately one week out of every month. They’re really sick. And their immune systems are asleep on the job; they can’t shake anything off. These same adults were prescribed antibiotics at least three or four times per year throughout their childhoods.

Siegel-Itzkovich illustrates what the result is now of all that antibiotic abuse that took place in the 1970s and 1980s.

I love the new Prime. Please keep shining the light of truth on medical practices of all types.

Rishe Deitsch, Crown Heights, N.Y.