Superbugs and Antibiotics: What Every Parent Needs to Know?

We must ask ourselves if it is better to not give antibiotics to common infections to our children as they face treatment-resistant superbugs.

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This week, the Centers for Disease Control warned of germs that are immune to the most effective antibiotics.

Experts believe that current antibiotics cannot be used against carbapenem resistant Enterobacteriaceae, a strain of bacteria which can cause serious infections in as many as half of those affected. Although the CDC warned doctors about CRE for a decade now, it has been confirmed in 42 states. The germ is also spreading seven times faster than ever before.

These bacteria are capable of spreading antibiotic resistance to other germs. They continue to evolve in spite of being killed by antibiotics.

How Antibiotics Cause Treatment Resistance in Children

Antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial infection, including sore throats, pneumonia, and ear, sinus, infections. They are not effective against viruses such as colds, flus and fevers.

There is a possibility that bacteria will become resistant to antibiotics when they come in contact with them. This can make it even more difficult to treat and possibly more dangerous.

Doctors often prescribe antibiotics for mild infections, which usually resolve on their own.

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Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford, Dr. Yvonne Maldonado is a member of American Academy of Pediatrics’ Infectious Diseases Committee. She said that it’s quite common for children younger than five to develop multiple respiratory infections. Doctors now have a lot of evidence to back this up.

Maldonado spoke out Thursday to Healthline about the times when doctors used antibiotics to treat common cold symptoms. Doctors now know this is not true and that too much antibiotic use can cause side effects such as diarrhea and vomiting.

A 1997 study found that 21 per cent of all adult antibiotic prescriptions were for upper respiratory tract infections and bronchitis. This is a staggering number of prescriptions and suggests that antibiotic overuse must be stopped.

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Other sources of resistance

Researchers are also looking into how antibiotics given as livestock feed may contribute to the resistance crisis. Evidence suggests that it is part of the problem.

The effects antibiotics can have on the microbiome, which is the ecosystem of bacteria, viruses and fungi living inside each person, is not to be overlooked. Preliminary research has shown that children who have been exposed to antibiotics between the ages of 10 and 38 months are more likely than those who were not.

Antibiotics could partially be responsible for everything, from childhood obesity to superbugs. A study published in Pediatrics found that antibiotics can slightly increase the risk of asthma and eczema in children.

Antibiotics: How to Use Them Properly

Although we are still learning the long-term effects from antibiotic over-use in our bodies, parents should be extra cautious when their doctors prescribe them.

Parents can get the following advice from AAP regarding antibiotics:

It doesn’t mean that antibiotics should be prescribed for a sick child. Do not pressure your child’s physician to prescribe them.

  • Antibiotics can only be used to treat bacterial infections.
  • The flu and cold can’t be treated with antibiotics.
  • Home remedies can be used to treat symptoms such as a cold or a cough.
  • Keep in mind that a fever is a fighting infection and helps to prevent future illness.
  • Even if your child is feeling better, give him or her all the prescribed antibiotics.
  • According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, you should throw away all unused antibiotics.

Maldonado stated that children under four years old should not be given any over-the-counter medications and should only be administered to children six years of age if a doctor has recommended them. Simple home remedies are often the best option for children suffering from upper respiratory infections or a cold.

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She said, “The world can be unpredictable so it can sometimes be hard to know if your doing the right thing.”