Friday, July 27, 2007

Sham: Over-Reliance on Antibiotics Leads to Resistant Strains of Bacteria in Children

I've written before on this forum about the dangers of antibiotics when they are over-prescribed. Antibiotics are so valuable and have saved so many lives--but as they are often prescribed unnecessarily, their use can lead to the rise of resistant organisms. Scientists publishing on the website for BMJ (British Medical Journal) warn of a potential rise in antibiotic resistance in the general population as a result.

While general practitioners have been strongly encouraged for years to reduce antibiotic use to minimize the risk of drug resistance, prescribing antibiotics to children remains a common practice. Author David Mant and colleagues at the University of Oxford report that they've seen a reduction in prescriptions due to the strategy of recommending a 24-48 hour delay before filling antibiotic prescriptions; this has resulted in a 40% fall in consumption in England. But new data suggests that community antibiotic prescriptions are once again rising.

The authors set out to assess the effect of antibiotics on antibiotic resistance in individual children in primary care. They identified 119 children with acute respiratory tract infection, of whom 71 received the antibiotic amoxicillin and 48 received no antibiotic. Background medical information was recorded and throat swabs were taken at the start of the study and again at two and 12 weeks to measure whether resistant bacteria were present.

In children who did not receive an antibiotic, there was no increase in the proportion carrying resistant bacteria in the throat from the initial level at 2 or 12 weeks. However, in children who received an antibiotic, the number carrying resistant bacteria more than doubled at the two week follow-up, but fell back close to the initial level by 12 weeks.

The authors believe these results show that prescribing amoxicillin to a child doubles the risk of finding antibiotic resistant strains in that child later. They warn that although this effect is temporary in the individual child, it may be sufficient to sustain a high level of antibiotic resistance in the population.

In the same issue of BMJ, a study shows that British doctors are still prescribing antibiotics for a large proportion of patients with minor infections, despite British guidelines about their use. I am certain this is happening here in the USA as well.

Antibiotics can be life saving drugs. Let's preserve and protect their ability to work by limiting their use. (Original research article linked to the headline of this post).


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My daughter(now 18yrs) as a child was always put on antibiotics yearly! I got wind by my second child about the problems with constant antibiotics and just avoided the doctors unless necessary. My third child(many medical issues/disabled) was put on them as toddler for 2yrs daily. This horrified me, but had to trust the doctor due to I didnt know enough about my sons kidney condition and did the antibiotics. Well I knew what this was also probably doing to his bacteria/virus resistance and intestinal flora/immune. Sure enough, he was constantly ill and put on rounds and rounds of added antibiotics. This was tearing me up and then he had a severe reaction to vacs at the age of 5yrs. This lead me to madly research on chemicals/toxins/natural healing(we was loosing our son at this point)! Now my family doesn't use any antibiotics. My youngest rarely does now, has once this winter, but this was caution on docs with him having seizures due to the illness he did get!! Even with this one round, he used to be yearly on round after round. My older son no longer needs them for the constant throat infections he used to get. My husband always used at least twice a winter. My daughter no longer uses either!! (Garlic did it for us).