Are antibiotics safe for children?

Filed in: Antibiotics.

This is something that I hear very often in my clinic. In the current scenario, where both parents work, a child with a fever can increase the stress factor and cause anxiety in the family. This often causes parents to resort to administering antibiotics to the child in the hope of rapid recovery. However, the self-administration of antibiotics can actually do more harm than good for the child.

Most fevers, coughs and colds are caused by viral infections, which are self-limiting and do not need antibiotics. However, if these symptoms are due to bacterial infections, the treatment line is the correct antibiotic as prescribed by the pediatrician. The unnecessary and prolonged intake of antibiotics has an adverse impact on the immunity of the child and can also cause other side effects.

As a pediatrician, I prefer to determine the likelihood of a bacterial infection, weigh the benefits and harms of antibiotics, and then implement prescription strategies, with watchful waiting considerations, if applicable.

In my clinical experience of almost 20 years, eight of which were in the USA. I have observed that parents understand when they are asked to wait and see if the fever is viral. Most pediatric infections, such as upper respiratory infections, stomach infections, and some skin and throat infections, are viral. Once a viral infection is clinically confirmed, I educate parents about the child's own immune system and its ability to fight the infection without antibiotics. Our job as a pediatrician and father is to make the child feel comfortable prescribing medications to relieve symptoms, but antibiotics are not required at this stage. The most important way to stop the spread of viral infection is to wash hands frequently and avoid close contact with a sick child; Therefore, we should not send a sick child to school.

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Since the symptoms of viral and bacterial infection are almost similar, it is of the utmost importance that parents consult a pediatrician who can recommend some diagnostic tests, if necessary, to determine if the fever is due to a viral or bacterial infection. During my practice in the USA UU., The availability of rapid diagnostic tests, such as rapid strep tests (for throat infections) and rapid influenza testing (for influenza), made diagnosis and differentiation convenient while the patient was waiting in the clinic. These tests are not yet available in India.

Another practice, widespread in India, is to seek advice from local pharmacists and start taking medications without consulting a pediatrician. This can often result in quick relief and parents can continue with their work, the child may be temporarily well enough to attend school. But think for a moment, the long-term damage this can do to the child. When the child really needs the antibiotic, the body may have developed resistance to the medication and the pediatrician may be forced to prescribe a higher level of antibiotics.

This indiscriminate and unnecessary administration of antibiotics is causing concern throughout the world. The bacteria that normally respond to routine antibiotics are now becoming resistant. As this happens, patients are exposed to higher doses and more expensive medications that also require intravenous administration, sometimes even hospitalization.

The appearance of superbugs (resistant bacteria) occurs much faster than the invention of new super antibiotics. Then, before your child runs out of antibiotics, limit their use!

Read the full article "Are antibiotics safe for children?" Dr. Mangala Pawar wrote on Practo.com here: https://www.practo.com/healthfeed/are-antibiotics-safe-for-children- 1704 / post

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