Fewer Kids Being Prescribed Antibiotics

Concern about overuse spurs decrease in prescriptions

Antibiotic prescriptions for kids are decreasing due to concerns about overuse.

The over-prescribing of antibiotics for children has been an increasing worry for both parents and health professionals. Fear of side effects and a buildup of resistance to the drugs have caused concern.

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But a new study shows the number of kids who are getting them for acute respiratory tract infections is going down. Antibiotics can cure bacterial, but not viral, infections.

Allison Brindle, MD, did not take part in the study but is a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s. She says the study’s findings are positive — but not surprising.

“What we have seen over time is that antibiotic prescribing rates have actually decreased, which makes sense when you think about the epidemiology of disease in kids,” Dr. Brindle says. “Kids are exposed to a lot of viruses, common colds, influenza and stomach bugs that don’t really need an antibiotic.”

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Study finds big drop in antibiotic RXs

Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia looked at the number of antibiotic prescriptions being given to children. Between October 2008 and June 2011, the number of kids being prescribed antibiotics for:

Researchers credit improved prescribing guidelines that have been developed in the past few years to try to limit the use of unnecessary antibiotics.

Parents and pediatricians should get on the same page

Dr. Brindle agrees that side effects like possible allergic reactions and diarrhea, as well as buildup of resistance to the drugs, are the biggest concerns with over-prescribing antibiotics. She says parents and pediatricians should get on the same page with the use of antibiotics.

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“It takes education on the part of the physician to make sure the prescription is appropriate,” says Dr. Brindle. “But it also takes education on the side of the patient and the family so that the expectation is not that ‘every time my child is sick, she has to have an antibiotic.’”

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