Do we always use antibiotics in children wisely?

According to the research published in JAMA Network Open, some $74 million in “inappropriately prescribed” antibiotics were given to children in the United States outside a hospital setting in 2017. Inappropriate prescriptions were defined as those that are non–guideline-recommended. In the research, researchers looked at data from 2.8 million children between April 1, 2016, and September 30, 2018. They reported that overall 31 to 36 percent of those children received inappropriate antibiotics for bacterial infections and 4 to 70 percent received them for viral infections.

Investigators report that inappropriately giving children antibiotics is not without consequence for the family or the healthcare system. Risks of adverse drug reactions and increased medical costs were both noted. For example, they reported there were higher healthcare costs within the 30 days post-prescription for those who were given antibiotics. The healthcare cost per child, the researchers stated, ranged from $21 to $56 for bacterial infections and around $96 for viral infections. National annual attributable expenditure estimates were highest for a chronic middle ear infection ($25 million), pharyngitis ($21 million), and viral upper respiratory infection ($19 million).

Tips for parents

It is important to know when antibiotic use in children is appropriate (and when it’s not).

Do not go into the doctor’s office asking for antibiotics.

Clinicians should prescribe antibiotics for a specific clinical diagnosis that is caused by a bacteria, not ‘just in case’ when a diagnosis is unclear and/or parents pressure them.

n the case that child’s illness has been prolonged, such as a prolonged duration of fever, you should call your clinician back to re-assess if the clinical diagnosis has changed.

Finally, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.

The whole paper which is online published on May 26th, 2022 you may find here.