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Health Spotlight: Pharmacist warns of too often prescribing antibiotics to children

Health Spotlight: Reducing drug overuse in kids

(WISH) — Pediatricians and pharmacists have issued warnings about kids using antibiotics too much.

Evidence from a study released in March from Intermountain Health and Stanford University suggests children are being prescribed antibiotics more often than necessary, potentially creating more dangerous drug-resistant infections.

The World Health Organization estimates at least 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections happen each year in the United States, leading to over 35,000 deaths.

Whether it’s the sneezes, sniffles, coughs or fevers, people want their little ones to feel better fast, but antibiotics aren’t always the answer.

Jared Olson, a pharmacist for infectious diseases at Intermountain Health’s Primary Children’s Hospital Salt Lake City, said, “The biggest misuses of antibiotics in children are really for viral infections.”

It’s important to know the difference between a bacterial infection and a virus.

For example, strep throat is a bacterial infection. Colds are a virus.

Olson said, “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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports antibiotic prescriptions for children have increased by 50%, and that overuse is creating more drug-resistant organisms.

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

Research have shown that if a child needs antibiotics, shorter durations have been just as effective as longer durations.

Also, parents can not insist on antibiotics for every illness.

A study in the Journal of Pediatrics reveals that almost 50% of doctor visits for respiratory infections resulted in antibiotic prescriptions, despite the doctors telling the parents it wouldn’t help.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.