Over prescribing of antibiotics in pediatric patients

* In The News *

An estimated 17,000 children aged  1 through 17 years get C. difficile infections every year, according to preliminary data from the Center of Disease Control and Infection. The Pediatrics study found that there was no difference in the incidence of C. difficile infection among boys and girls, and that the highest numbers were seen in white children and those between the ages of 12 and 23 months.

Clostridium difficile is a spore forming bacteria which can be part of the normal intestinal flora in as many as 50% of children under age two, and less frequently in individuals over two years of age. C. difficile (C. diff.) is the major cause of pseudomembranous colitis and antibiotic associated diarrhea.

Many parents continue to insist on physicians prescribing an antibiotic, i.e.,  amoxicillin or zithromax, each time their child has a sore throat, bronchitis, or mild ear infection which are usually caused by a virus and not bacteria.  Antibiotics are not effective treating viruses.

A new CDC study published earlier last week in the Journal Pediatrics found that 71 percent of C. difficile infections that occurred in children were not associated with a hospital stay and usually followed a course of antibiotics prescribed by a pediatrician. Previous research suggests that at least half of antibiotics prescribed to children are for respiratory infections, most of which don’t require antibiotics.

The CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden stated,  “When antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly, our children are needlessly put at risk for health problems including C. difficile infection and dangerous antibiotic resistant infections.” “Improved antibiotic prescribing is critical to protect the health of our nation’s children,”

Physicians are more cautious about prescribing antibiotics, and parents need to become more understanding that antibiotics are not recommended for viruses and the symptoms noted.  However; if the symptoms are not relieved with over-the-counter medications, or fever persists, the Physician should be notified/seen and symptoms assessed.  Antibiotics should only be considered and prescribed by physicians for symptoms that do not resolve on their own or linger past a week or two.