Tag Archives: microbiome

Are Your Kids Too Clean? (Pedcast)

Voice intro:

Welcome to another edition of Portable Practical Pediatrics. I’m your host, Dr. Paul Smolen, also known as Doc Smo. From the bassinet to the board room, if the topic involves children, we talk about it here. I frequently get asked by the parents of my patients, “Why do so many children have food allergy, asthma, and eczema today? Most of these parents don’t remember their friends having nearly the incidence of allergy that today’s children do and that was just a few decades ago. What is going on, they ask? Well, my answer is that we really don’t know, but we are beginning to get closer to an answer. For years, immunologists and allergists have been talking about something called the Hygiene Hypothesis to explain all of this allergy. Recent observations have made this less of a theory and more of an explanation. Experts are beginning to have some understanding. So in today’s pedcast, I thought we would talk about some of this evidence and introduce you to the current thinking about allergies and children. The hope is if we can understand what is driving the allergy epidemic, we can help protect future kids from suffering from with terrible allergies. Continue reading

Dishwashers Harmful to Kids? (Article)

It turns out there is truth in the statement “The old way is the better way,” according to a recent study that has found an association between dishwashers and the growing prevalence of allergy among children. In this study, Swedish researchers found childhood allergies to be less prevalent in families who hand washed dishes versus those who used modern dishwashing machines. It was just a few generations ago when parents and children alike, hand washed the dishes after dinner. In modern America today, this activity seems to be a only a distant memory. The majority of American families now have the convenience of an electric dishwasher to help with kitchen cleanup. Continue reading

Newborn Skin with Dr. Susan Primmer (Pedcast)


Dr. Paul Smolen here, your pedcast host now for 4 years running. Welcome to a very special edition of DocSmo.com. We are very fortunate to have my good friend, colleague, and kid-skin expert, dermatologist Dr. Susan Primmer, returning to share her wisdom and experience with us today. Your in for a treat. She is double board certified in pediatrics and dermatology and has over 30 years of clinical experience. Need I say more? Welcome Dr. Susan Primmer.  I’ve got some strange questions for you today Sue;

Continue reading

Missing Microbes, by Martin Blaser MD (Book Review Pedcast)

 Help support DocSmo.com by buying this reviewed book using this affiliate link. You get Amazon’s best price and DocSmo.com earns a small affiliate marketing fee.  Thank you.


Come on in and sit a spell. Welcome to another book review edition of DocSmo.com. I’m your host, Dr. Paul Smolen, a board certified pediatrician in Charlotte, NC. I love learning about new ideas in medicine-that’s why I started this blog. So it’s with great excitement that I read a book by Dr. Martin Blaser, a medical doctor and expert in the normal and abnormal microbes of the human body, something that scientist now call the “human microbiome.” Sounds dull, doesn’t it? Well, I have to tell you that this book is anything but boring. It’s not many books that can change one’s fundamental thinking about one of a pediatrician’s most basic tools-antibiotics, but this book does just that.


Ask any Western doctor and they will tell you that things are changing. I went into my medical career, confident that we had tamed the microbial world with powerful antibiotics. Midway into my career, we began seeing super bugs being bred in hospitals and nursing homes.  Germs like MRSA staph, C diff, and even the whimpy microbe  pneumococcus became very tough cookies. Even more frightening, recently these germs have broken out of hospitals into our communities with terrible results.


But not all microbes are harmful. Researchers like Dr. Blaser are unraveling our biologic link to our friendly microbiome, working out how about 100 billion friendly bacteria inside and on your children, keep the child healthy and in balance. Some germs cause disease, like the ones I just mentioned, but most are part the a child’s defensive immune system. In other words, some germs can be your child’s enemy but most are your child’s ally, having evolved to the mutual benefit of your child and themselves.


Now for the revelation part of this book. Dr. Blaser’s conclusion after decades of study is that making’s use of antibiotics has fundamentally changed modern man’s microbiome, especially that of our children. He has found that  the reduction in diversity of the microbiome in today’s children, may be why we are seeing far more children with obesity, eczema, asthma, a food allergy called celiac disease, and other food allergies like peanut allergy.  He contends that being born by C-section, getting multiple courses of antibiotics during infancy and childhood, starts children off with dysfunctional immune systems. WOW!  Dr. Blaser contends that the same drugs that have saved literally millions of lives in the past half century have weakened our children in a fundamental way.


While Dr. Blaser realizes we can’t let completely give up the life saving usefulness of antibiotics, he does make a number of suggestions that would reduce their impact on all of us;

-Reduce the C-section rate to as low as possible. He contends that it is during the natural birth process that the microbiome is passed from generation to generation.

-The next time your pediatrician suggests the wait and see approach to antibiotics, you give it serious consideration.

-Pediatricians need to stop using broad spectrum antibiotics, those that stop the growth of a large number of bacteria in the body.

-Drop the hand gel idea and go back to soap and water which he contends has less impact on your child’s microbiome.

-Stop routinely giving antibiotics to animals on farms, simply to increase their weight.


Missing Microbes is an extremely thought provoking book, bringing decades of research out of the scientific journals and accessible and understandable to all of us. It is well written and full of relevant information for every expectant mother, new parent, and pediatrician for that matter. I give it 4.5 out of a possible 5 Doc Smo stars. I strongly recommend you read it and consider Dr. Blaser’s point of view. I think you will be glad you did.  Until next time.