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Too many antibiotics given to kids

Inappropriate treatment

I’d like to think that, with everything we now know about overdoing antibiotics, that we’d be taking it easy on treating every single little thing with the big guns.

Yeah…I’d like to think that.

But even now, knowing that the overuse of antibiotics contributes to the rise of deadly superbugs, a new study shows that kids are still being given too many antibiotics.

In fact, of all the antibiotics they’re given, fully half are broad-spectrum drugs that have inappropriate indications. Shockingly, illnesses that don’t respond to antibiotics (like viral pneumonia) accounted for a staggering 30 percent of broad-spectrum antibiotic use.

Put simply, kids are being given antibiotics when they just plain don’t need them–when they don’t even have a bacterial infection. Which means the drugs are less likely to work when they DO need them. It’s like the boy who cried wolf–when the wolf is finally at the door, the antibiotics just aren’t gonna show up.

Heck, even when they’re used properly, antibiotics can screw up your system by wiping out the “good guy” bacteria right along with the bad guys. And I haven’t even touched on their common side effects including nausea and diarrhea.

Of course the worst part of all, however, is that their overuse has led to the birth of sometimes deadly antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria like MRSA.

It’s a practice that clearly just has to stop.

But some doctors are still just handing them out like candy, cheerfully proclaiming it’s better to be safe than sorry. The result? In ten million visits to the doctor in a year, kids were given antibiotics for respiratory conditions for which antibiotics are totally inappropriate.

That’s 10 million cases of a child being drugged and put at risk unnecessarily. Who in their right mind would call THAT safe?

Doctors especially seem to like giving a class of antibiotics called macrolides. This class includes azitrhomycin, and it accounted for 40 percent of broad-spectrum antibiotic treatments as well as 20 percent of overall antibiotic prescriptions. They like these drugs because they can be given once a day over short treatment periods.

But there’s a dark side: Cases of macrolide-resistant bacterial pneumonia are on the rise.

The researchers are calling for antibiotic stewardship programs to curb the flurry of prescriptions. I’m reminded of the call in the UK for doctors to stop overprescribing antibiotics. Meanwhile, in the US, we’re giving them away free!

Really, the best thing you can do for your children or grandchildren is to stay diligent. Ask your child’s doctor WHY he’s prescribing antibiotics, and what he suspects is the cause of your child’s illness.

Remember, you don’t have to fill every prescription you’re handed, and if more people start questioning the antibiotic-popping cultural norm, maybe we’ll see some real change.

Sources:
“Kids Still Getting Too Many Antibiotics,” Medpage Today (medpagetoday.com)