Nov20SunNovember 20, 2016
In a survey done nearly 10 years ago, half of all pediatricians said they were regularly pressured by children's parents to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics. What's more, a third said they sometimes caved, writing scripts simply because of parental demands.
It would be interesting to know if things have changed. Doubtless parents still want the best for their children, but there's been plenty of publicity about dangerous, hard-to-treat infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and how these dangerous strains are created partly by overuse of antibiotics.
There have also been many attempts to explain to the public that antibiotics are often of limited use for everyday illnesses, have side effects, and contribute to the wider problem of treatment-resistant infections.
New research published in the BMJ gives even more reasons to be cautious about giving antibiotics to children. In the study, 168 children had been randomly given antibiotics or a placebo for an ear infection. Three years later, the researchers asked the children's parents how many more ear infections the children had suffered.
If children had taken antibiotics, there was a 63 percent chance they'd had at least one subsequent infection. The risk was only 43 percent for children who'd been given an inactive placebo.
The researchers think that antibiotics might kill off some of the weaker bacteria causing a child's infection, leaving more space for tougher, antibiotic-resistant bacteria to grow. Another theory is that killing bacteria with antibiotics means less work for a child's immune system, leading to weaker protection from infections in future.
Another Study: Antibiotics Have Little Impact on Child Ear Infections
By Miriam Falco, CNN Medical Managing Editor
Giving children antibiotics for ear infections does little to speed their recovery.
Giving children antibiotics for ear infections does little to speed their recovery while raising the risk of some side effects, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study found that 80 out of 100 otherwise healthy children would recover from an acute ear infection within a few days if given medication only to relieve pain or fevers. If all 100 were given antibiotics instead, 92 would be better in the same period, said Dr. Tumaini Coker, the study's lead author.
"But we would also expect three to 10 kids to develop rash and five to 10 to develop diarrhea," said Coker, a pediatrician at Mattel Children's Hospital at the University of California-Los Angeles.
Coker noted that the increased number of children in the study who benefited from treatment with antibiotics was similar to the number that could be expected to get side effects from the antibiotic treatment.
"Clinicians and parents need to know the benefits and side effects on how to manage their child's ear infection," Coker said.