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Are antibiotics over-prescribed for young children?

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Keeping toddlers healthy in the winter can be a struggle. Their young bodies haven’t had years to build up resistance to many common germs and it can seem that they are always coming down with something. Aviva Romm, M.D. posts some information about antibiotics and their use with toddlers on her website Own Your Health.

In 2011 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report on the problem of unnecessary antibiotic prescribing for kids. They found that doctors were unnecessarily prescribing antibiotics for kids more than 50% of the time, most often for upper respiratory infections (colds, coughs, ear infections, sinusitis, and sore throats).
Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing is the primary cause of antibiotic resistance, which is a major global public health problem. Further, medical science is waking up to the fact that pediatric antibiotic exposure is not benign, and may lead to asthma, eczema, and the development of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease later in life.

Other commonly prescribed adjunct therapies for common kids’ infections, for example, Tylenol and ibuprofen carry the potential for serious side effects, including the development of asthma and gastrointestinal bleeding, respectively. Tylenol overuse is one of the most common causes of liver failure in the United States. While antibiotics and other medications can be are lifesaving when necessary, when overprescribed and misused, the consequences can be deadly.

Antibiotics are often given unnecessarily for common pediatric infections because doctors think that parents want or expect them. Indeed, I’ve had to talk dozens of parents out of an antibiotics prescription – they are accustomed to doctors giving meds, and they are afraid and don’t want their kids to suffer. Doctors also prescribe antibiotics because they are worried about missing a serious diagnosis – and then there is also fear of litigation for the rare missed or undertreated infection.

The truth is that:

• You generally do not have to treat fever. Comfort measures and lot of fluids are the most important treatments for most kids.

• Antibiotics do not treat coughs due to viral infections and are almost never indicated for coughs due to colds or bronchitis but are overprescribed for both.

• Ear infection is the most common reason for a pediatric office visit, and one of the most common conditions leading to antibiotic over-prescription. Approximately 80% of kids with acute otitis media get better without antibiotics.
How do you “winterize your kids?

Get your kids ready for winter! In Dr. Romm’s 80 minute web class, she helps parents understand the key guidelines for making the decision of using natural vs. conventional therapies. She also covers the basic safety considerations when using herbs and natural therapies.

• How to recognize a sick child
• Bolstering immunity and natural tips for doing so
• The difference between a common cold vs. a flu
• Safe supplements for kids and dosages
• The common winter illnesses, symptoms and risks
• Who should and should not get the flu vaccine
• How to “treat a fever”
• The warning signs that your child needs to see a doctor
• Preventing a cold from turning into an infection
• Herbal recipes that Aviva used with her kids.

Click here for more information.

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