Combating Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics are a wonder drug, and can save children’s lives from dangerous bacteria. Unfortunately, because certain antibiotics have been overprescribed, we are beginning to have a problem with resistance, which makes these once powerful drugs useless in the face of illness. Illnesses like pneumonia, ear infections, and meningitis are now harder to treat than ever before. Thankfully, there are steps parents and pediatricians can take together to help prevent the overprescription of antibiotics.

Your Child May Not Actually Need Antibiotics

Your child may appear very sick, but unless they have a bacterial infection, antibiotics will not serve any purpose. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, there are certain illnesses that need antibiotics – but before the antibiotics are prescribed, there should be a degree of certainty that it is in fact a bacterial infection. This might mean doing a blood, urine, or culture test to determine the bacterial infection and then prescribing the shortest dosage possible per the evidence. Parents should never pressure their doctor to prescribe their child antibiotics when the doctor does not feel they are necessary.

Are Some Antibiotics Better than Others?

In certain scenarios, some antibiotics should be prescribed over others. For instance, Ampicillin is recommended for children hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia. Broader-spectrum antibiotics like cephalosporins should be avoided if possible, due to the fact that they have been known to create resistance. Vancomycin or carbapenems should be avoided if possible as well. Children usually respond well to oral antibiotics, so prolonged courses of IV antibiotics are usually not necessary.

Important Tips for Preventing Resistance

In order to combat drug resistance, parents should always make sure their children finish their whole round of antibiotics. This will also prevent them from getting the same illness again right away. It is important to note that children should never be given leftover antibiotics that were lying around the house. Most importantly, the best way to prevent antibiotic resistance is to avoid bacterial infections in the first place by washing hands and staying up to date with immunizations.