Paranoid Parents Need To Back Off, Because Kids Are Being Prescribed Twice As Many Antibiotics As Needed

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earache-baby-photoWhen the baby is in pain, of course you want to fix it as quickly as humanly possible. It would take a much stronger person than I to look at that distraught little red scrunched-up face and downturned mouth and not feel compelled to run to the doctor and demand she dispense relief immediately. But while that’s a completely understandable impulse, it can also harm our kids and the kids around them, because children are reportedly being prescribed antibiotics twice as often as necessary.

Antibiotics prescribed for children will help cure a sore throat or earache caused by a bacterial infection, but will do nothing to stop a viral one. Unfortunately it can be difficult for a doctor to tell which he or she is dealing with, and with a parent sitting there ready to deliver a kick in the shins if something isn’t done to relieve the child’s pain, some doctors are handing out antibiotics without being sure they are called for.

According to a new study linked by NPR:

“More than half of all outpatient antibiotic prescriptions are for respiratory infections … which includes ears, noses and throats. But some infections were more likely to be caused by bacteria than others. Ear infections were caused by bacteria 65 percent of the time, while strep tests revealed Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria causing that sore throat just 20 percent of the time.”

But the researchers found that kids visiting doctors for respiratory tract infections left with antibiotic prescriptions twice as often as were called for, which means a lot of kids are getting antibiotics they don’t need and that won’t help them. The excessive prescription of antibiotics can have side effects and increases the chances of antibiotic resistance, which is terrible for those kids and everyone around them.

Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics made a push to get doctors to stop prescribing antibiotics so often, but it’s tough not to when there’s a parent demanding antibiotics.

“Parents, if their child is up all night screaming and tugging the ear, they want something to make the child feel better,” said Dr. Richard Rosenfeld of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center.

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