What Every Parent Should Know About Antibiotics and Superbugs

Written by Brian Krans | Published on March 7, 2013

As our children face treatment-resistant ‘superbugs,’ we must ask ourselves, 'Is it better to avoid antibiotics for common infections?'

The Centers for Disease Control issued stark warnings this week about germs that have developed defenses against the best antibiotics available. Experts say current antibiotics are no match for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a strain of bacteria that is lethal in up to half of patients with serious infections. While the CDC has warned medical professionals about CRE for a decade, the germ has now been detected in 42 states and is spreading seven times faster than before. The problem with these bacteria is that they are capable of spreading their antibiotic resistance to other germs. In short, they continue to evolve in response to medications designed to kill them. “This means that in the near future more bacteria will become immune to treatment and more patients’ lives could be at risk from routine bladder or wound infections,” according to the CDC. As hospitals, doctors, and infectious disease specialists combat the latest wave of treatment-resistant germs, parents should take a closer look at how antibiotics are used to treat routine acute conditions in their children—such as the common cold—because they may be doing more harm than good.

How Antibiotics Create Treatment Resistance in Children
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, such as some sore throats, pneumonia, and ear and sinus infections. However, they are useless against viruses, including colds, flus, fevers, diarrhea, and vomiting. Every time bacteria encounter antibiotics, there’s a chance they will mutate and become resistant to that medication, making these new germs even tougher to treat and potentially more dangerous. Too often, doctors prescribe antibiotics for mild infections that typically clear up on their own. Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at Stanford and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' infectious diseases committee, said it's common for children

doctors know that's not the case and that excessive antibiotic use only causes unwanted side effects. "When you see your child ill and distressed. One study from 1997 found that 21 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions written for adults were for colds. We'd all love to have the cure for the common cold. viruses. and fungi that live inside us all. and bronchitis. Preliminary research shows that children exposed to antibiotics before six months of age are more likely to have an increased body-mass index (BMI) between 10 and 38 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that repeated use and misuse of antibiotics are part of the reason these new “superbugs” are becoming so powerful. but we don't. "People expect to get antibiotics to make the symptoms go away when it's not really helping. and thanks to a host of available evidence. That's why foregoing antibiotics in certain situations is the No. evidence suggests it’s part of the problem. including diarrhea and vomiting. many parents visit pediatricians to ask for antibiotics for common viral infections. Other Sources of Resistance Researchers are also exploring how antibiotics given to livestock may contribute to the resistance crisis. Maldonado said that. Antibiotic use has also been shown to slightly increase a child’s risk of asthma and eczema. 1 recommendation in their Choosing Wisely campaign to combat unnecessary medical tests and treatments. in the past. and researchers say the overuse of antibiotics must be curbed. doctors now know what they're up against. So far. In an interview Thursday with Healthline. upper respiratory tract infections. there's not much that can be done. antibiotics may be partially responsible for everything from "superbugs" to childhood obesity. Still." Maldonado said. doctors would prescribe antibiotics in the belief that killing small amounts of bacteria in places like the sinuses could help treat common cold symptoms. Now. unnecessary use only propels drug resistance. three conditions for which antibiotics have “little or no benefit. according to a study published in Pediatrics. you want something to help. but in [the case of] colds and upper respiratory infections. Not to mention the effect antibiotics have on a person’s microbiome—the ecosystem of bacteria. .” That amounts to 12 million unnecessary prescriptions.under five to have multiple respiratory infections. So." While the rate of antibiotic prescriptions written for children is declining.

"The world is a little unpredictable.The Proper Use of Antibiotics Though we’re still discovering the long-term effects of antibiotic over-use. Don’t pressure your child’s doctor to prescribe them.com:     At-home Cold & Flu Remedies That Work The Secrets to Never Getting Sick Weirdest Cold Treatments From Around the World Healthline’s Cold & Flu Center . Treat cold and cough symptoms with home remedies. pharyngitis. Food and Drug Administration guidelines.S. not viral infections. Antibiotics don’t cure colds and flus. Give your child all of his or her prescribed antibiotics. More on Healthline. so sometimes it's hard to know if you're doing the right thing. Remember that a fever fights infections and produces helpful antibodies to prevent future sickness. The AAP offers the following recommendations for parents regarding antibiotics:        A sick child doesn’t necessarily mean antibiotics are required. and bronchitis. Maldonado said that most over-the-counter medicines shouldn't be given to children under the age of four. Most of the time. such as sinusitis. and should only be given to children younger than six when a doctor recommends them. simple home remedies are the best thing for a child with a cold or upper respiratory infection. even if he or she is feeling better. parents should take extra caution when doctors are ready to prescribe them. Antibiotics are only useful for bacterial infections. Throw away any unused antibiotics according to the U." she said.

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