Hospitals Are Giving Kids Too Many Antibiotics — And That's A Problem

by Thea Glassman
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A new study found that hospitals are overprescribing antibiotics to kids

You might want to take a second look at how many antibiotics your doctor is giving your child. A new study found that hospitals are overdoing it when it comes to giving kids prescription drugs — which could lead to some worrying consequences in the future.

The study, which was published by the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, found that doctors are prescribing antibiotics to children to prevent future diseases, not to treat them. Overuse of those drugs aren’t actually helping your child, according to the study, but rather “hasten[ing] the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and drug-resistant infections,” which, obviously, it not ideal.

The study took a pretty comprehensive look at antibiotic prescriptions, surveying 6,818 children who were inpatients at 226 pediatric hospitals in 41 countries. Of those hospitals surveyed, there were 11,899 total prescriptions for antibiotics, 28.6 percent of which were for prophylactic use. That is way, way too much according to researchers. “This pattern and high rate of prophylactic prescribing indicates a clear overuse of antibiotics,” study author Markus Hufnagel said.

Researchers suggest that hospitals should rethink the way they prescribe antibiotics to their young patients, by reducing the use of preventative antibiotics before surgery along with cutting down on broad-spectrum antibiotics.

“These patterns contradict current recommendations for appropriate prophylactic antibiotic use,” the study explained. “Guidelines often call for using narrow-spectrum antibiotics for shorter periods, in an effort to limit the development of antibiotic resistance.”

So, why is this all really important to take into consideration? Because more than 2 million Americans go to the doctor every year due to antibiotic-resistance. That adds up — a lot. Those extra visits to the doctor cost the United States an insane $2.2 billion (broken down to $1,383/per hospital bill). That’s pretty bad in and of itself, but there are also some pretty deadly consequences that are far and away worse. The CDC reported that 23,000 people die every year as a direct result of these antibiotic-resistant infections.

That’s….terrifying. Dr. Hufnagel hopes the study raises awareness with doctors, patients, and parents alike.

“Hopefully, our study results will help to raise awareness among health professionals about appropriate prescribing of antibiotics in children.”