Antibiotic Alert: Reducing Drug Overuse in Kids


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Ivanhoe Newswire) — There’s a growing concern among pediatricians and pharmacists about the overuse of antibiotics in children. New evidence suggests children are being prescribed antibiotics more often than necessary, potentially creating more dangerous drug resistant infections. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates at least 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year in the US. Leading to over 35 thousand deaths. Ivanhoe reports on what parents and pediatricians can do to help. drug overuse

Whether it’s the sneezes, sniffles, coughs or fevers, we want our little ones to feel better fast … but are antibiotics always the answer?

Jared Olson, PharmD, Pharmacist, Infectious Diseases at Intermountain Health’s Primary Children’s Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah, explains, “The biggest misuses of antibiotics in children are really for viral infections.”

But do you know the difference between a bacterial infection and a virus? For example, strep throat is a bacterial infection. Colds are a virus. Infectious Disease Pharmacist, Jared Olson, has a warning for patients about antibiotics. “They come at a cost that’s in side effects. So, some of the most common side effects that we see with antibiotics are diarrhea and also rashes that are relatively minor. But we can also see really serious adverse events such as allergic reactions that require hospitalizations.”

Over the past decade the CDC reports antibiotic prescriptions for children have increased by 50 percent.

And that overuse is creating more drug resistant organisms.

Olson says, “It’s become really concerning recently because we don’t have a lot of new drugs that are being developed.”

New research shows that if your child does need antibiotics, shorter durations are just as effective as longer durations. And parents can do their part by not insisting on antibiotics for every illness.

A study in the Journal of Pediatrics reveals that almost 50 percent of doctor visits for respiratory infections resulted in antibiotic prescriptions, despite the doctors telling the parents it would not help.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer, Editor.


REPORT #3101

BACKGROUND: Antibiotic overuse is when antibiotics are used when they’re not needed. Overprescribing them has led to resistant bacteria, or bacteria that are harder to treat. Some germs that were once very responsive to antibiotics have become more and more resistant. This can cause more serious infections, such as pneumococcal infections (pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and meningitis), skin infections, and tuberculosis. Taking antibiotics too often or for the wrong reasons can change bacteria so much that antibiotics don’t work against them. This is called bacterial resistance or antibiotic resistance. Some bacteria are now resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics available. The CDC calls this growing problem “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.”


ANTIBIOTIC OVERUSE AND CHILDREN: Research out of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that one in four children given antibiotics in U.S. children’s hospitals are prescribed the drugs improperly. The research involved nearly 12,000 children at 32 U.S. children’s hospitals and found that nearly half of this improper use of antibiotics would have gone undetected by current antibiotic stewardship programs designed to prevent antibiotic resistance. “Our goal was to understand if antibiotics used to treat hospitalized children were suboptimal, meaning doctors shouldn’t have prescribed any antibiotics; they could have used a more effective antibiotic; or they could have prescribed a different dose or for a shorter duration,” said Jason Newland, MD, a Washington University professor of pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Researchers found 25 percent of the patients received at least one antibiotic deemed unnecessary.


NEW RESEARCH ON AGE-APPROPRIATE ANTIBIOTICS: This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the first ever list of priority pediatric formulations for antibiotics. The goal was to have more targeted research and development efforts that could address the specific needs of infants and children. The scope of this work was to identify antibiotics with an approved pediatric indication for which age-appropriate formulations are missing and that need to be given priority for development. “Priority-setting is the first step to enable a more targeted and efficient approach to research and development,” says Professor John Reeder, Chief Scientist at WHO. Developing a prioritized medicine portfolio of the most needed formulations for children is essential to streamline researchers’ and suppliers’ efforts and resources around formulations that address the most urgent needs for children.


* For More Information, Contact:

Jared Olson, PharmD

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