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Antibiotics May Be Linked to Serious Infections in Children

Antibiotics May Be Linked to Serious Infections in Children

03/07/14

FRIDAY, March 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Antibiotics prescribed in doctors' offices are linked with many cases of serious bacterial infections that can cause severe diarrhea in children, according to a new study.

Researchers found that 71 percent of cases of Clostridium difficileinfection among American children aged 1 to 17 occurred shortly after they took antibiotics that were prescribed in doctors' offices to treat other conditions.

Most of the children received antibiotics for problems such as ear, sinus or upper respiratory infections. Previous research has shown that at least 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed to children in doctors' offices are for respiratory infections, most of which do not require antibiotics, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers said in an agency news release.

About 17,000 children aged 1 to 17 get C. difficileinfections every year, according to the CDC. This study found no difference in the incidence of C. difficileinfections among boys and girls. It did show, however, that white children and those aged 12 months to 23 months are at greatest risk for such infections.

While the study showed an association between antibiotic use and C. difficileinfections, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

The study was published online March 3 in the journal Pediatrics.

Taking antibiotics is the top risk factor for developing C. difficileinfections for both children and adults, the researchers said. Antibiotics can alter or kill beneficial bacteria that help protect against infections, which means patients can get sick from C. difficilethey pick up from contaminated surfaces or someone's hands.

"Improved antibiotic prescribing is critical to protect the health of our nation's children," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in the news release. "When antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly, our children are needlessly put at risk for health problems including C. difficileinfection and dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections."

Parents should not demand that doctors prescribe antibiotics for their children, and doctors should follow antibiotic prescribing guidelines, according to the CDC.

The CDC is seeking funding for a program it believes could cut outpatient prescribing of antibiotics by up to 20 percent and health care-associated C. difficileinfections by 50 percent in five years. That reduction in infections could save 20,000 lives and more than $2 billion in health care costs, according to the news release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about C. difficile.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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