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Unneeded Antibiotics Prescribed to Kids

Joe Raedle, Getty Images

A new study from researchers at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City found that pediatricians write more than 10 million prescriptions for unnecessary antibiotics every year.

In the two-year study, 65,000 kids were profiled to determine the type of diagnosis they were given during doctor’s visits as well as the type of of drugs, if any, they were prescribed. The research revealed doctors prescribed antibiotics during one of every five visits.

While some of those drugs were appropriately prescribed for bacterial infections, almost 25 percent were given to kids with respiratory conditions that typically aren’t helped by antibiotics, such as bronchitis, the flu, asthma and allergies.

Dr. Adam Hersh, a researcher attached to the study, said some of those antibiotics “kill more of the good bacteria in our bodies and can set the child up for infections with antibiotic resistant bacteria down the road,” and doctors may prescribe them because a diagnosis is murky. “The decision is made to prescribe an antibiotic… just ‘to be on the safe side,’” he said.

Dr. Aditya Gaur, who studied antibiotic prescribing at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, said parents shouldn’t by shy about asking doctors the reasons behind prescriptions, adding that parents should also know “not to expect an antibiotic every time an infection is diagnosed.”


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