Children & Unnecessary Antibiotics

In the March 18, 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) was an article entitled Antibiotic Prescribing for Children with Colds, Upper Respiratory Infections, and Bronchitis. The article talks about the prevalent usage of antibiotics in children with problems coming from viruses. As all doctors know, antibiotics are not designed or effective in viral infections such as many upper respiratory infections (URI’s), bronchitis or colds.

In the study sited in the report in JAMA, 531 pediatric files were reviewed whose diagnosis was either colds, URI, or bronchitis. Of these it was determined that 44% of those with colds got a worthless and possibly harmful antibiotic. Of those with URI’s 46% were determined to have gotten antibiotics they didn’t also need. And in those diagnoses with bronchitis an astounding 75% received an antibiotic even though antibiotics would be totally ineffective and possibly harmful.

According to the article’s bottom line: “Antibiotic prescribing for children diagnosed as having colds, URI’s and bronchitis, conditions that typically do not benefit from antibiotics, represent a substantial proportion of total antibiotic prescriptions to children in the United States each year.”

Many medical physicians admit that patients expect and even demand antibiotic usage on their children with these types of problems. Doctors have lost patients from their practice when they have refused to administer antibiotics to a parent who mistakenly believes that form of care is needed.