Antibiotic Resistance in Pediatric Patients
Since the day antibiotics were discovered, they have been known as a miracle drug for the medical industry. They help save lives and have increase life expectancy. Antibiotics are an important drug used every day for medical procedures such as organ transplants, dental work and in childbirth. Without antibiotics, these procedures would be too risky to perform and would often lead to patient death because of bacterial infections. The importance of antibiotics is undeniable, but the overuse of antibiotics has created a new health risk: Antibiotic resistance. Today, children are at higher risk of antibiotic resistance because antibiotics are prescribed to children more often than to adults. Children with asthma are the group of children who are highly likely to be prescribed antibiotics to treat illness. Children with asthma would see a decrease in antibiotic resistance if emergency room departments would prescribe antibiotics less frequently, flu shots were prioritized and public education on proper antibiotic use were available.
It is said that every year at least two million people develop an antibiotic resistant infection in the united states, and nearly 23,000 people die. This is due to the overly misuse and overuse of antibiotics that lead to bacteria to become resistant to any antibiotic medication currently available. Antibiotics work by fighting bacteria by destroying them before they reproduce and cause severe life-threatening infections. Most minor infections do not require antibiotics because the body can fright them off on its own. Superbugs are created when antibiotics are misused, (by not taking them completely) or if overprescribed. For example, taking antibiotics for a virus such as the flu or a cold, is considered unnecessary. The dramatic rise of antibiotic resistance has reached dangerous levels that current medication cannot keep up with.
Antibiotics are one of the most common medications prescribed to pediatrics with asthma, when they present with symptoms to the emergency room department. Research shows that "inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions are commonly provided to acute asthma patients in the ED [Emergency Department]. Approximately 22% of these patients receive an antibiotic unnecessarily, which may contribute to increasing bacterial resistance." (Vanderwaiel BA, Stefan G., Inappropriate use of Antibiotics for Acute Asthma in the United States Emergency department) In order to reduce the amount of unnecessary prescribed antibiotics, it is important to educate medical doctors of the appropriate time to prescribe antibiotics when it is needed.
So why are antibiotics overprescribed? Many doctors explain that antibiotics are prescribed at higher volumes to children, because they are pressured to by the parents. In a busy environment such as the emergency department, it is often easier to give into the request of a demanding parent. This is where education plays an important role. Parents need to be educated on the health risks and medical complications a child may have throughout their life due to the use of antibiotics at a young age. Besides antibiotic resistance, antibiotics also create several different complications. The more antibiotics a child is exposed to the greater their risk for developing other health conditions such as asthma, eczema, ADHD, celiac disease, weight problems, food allergies, hay fever and autism. If parents are made aware of these health risk, many of them would stop pressuring doctors to prescribe antibiotics and trust that mild infections may clear on their own.
"Many studies have shown that integrating educational programs for clinicians, medical office staff, patients, and targeted audiences such as day care providers make the biggest difference in community wide antibiotic use." (Steiner Elizabeth, Promoting Appropriate Antibiotic use: Teaching Doctors, Teaching Patients) Many mild infections go away on their own without the help of prescribed antibiotics. Many mild infections can also be prevented by taking other preventive steps such as good hygiene and vaccines. One vaccine that is benedictional to the health of asthmatic patients is the flu shot.
Another important tool to prevent antibiotic resistance are flu shots. While the flu vaccine helps prevent the need of antibiotics by protecting from infections, its biggest threat are antibiotics. Taking antibiotics during, after or right before having a flu vaccine, weakens the effects of the flu vaccine. This is another reason why antibiotics should only be used when absolutely necessary. "The depletion of gut bacteria by antibiotics appears to leave the immune system less able to respond to new challenges, such as exposure to previously unencountered germs or vaccines..."To our knowledge, this is the first demonstrations of the effects of broad-spectrum antibiotics on the immune response in humans-in this case, our response to vaccination-directly induced through the disturbance of our gut bacteria," (Puldendran, Stanford medicine)
Flu vaccines prevent illness from pneumonia, bronchitis, ear and sinus infections. Children with asthma are at higher risk of serious flu complications. It is very important for these group of patients to get a flu shot every year to avoid severe asthma complications caused by the flu, that may lead to hospitalizations and the need for antibiotics. "A new CDC study published today in Pediatrics is the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination significantly reduced a child's risk of dying from influenza. The study, which looked at data from four flu seasons between 2010 and 2014, found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by half (51 percent) among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by nearly two-thirds (65 percent) among healthy children." (CDC)
In conclusion, antibiotics resistance will eventually form from any antibiotic. The goal is to lessen the rate of resistance to keep them working. It is up to parents, patients and doctors to be well informed to know when antibiotics should and should not be used. Antibiotics are a miracle drug. Without this medication, most people today would have not been born because their great grandparents would have not made it through childhood without a life-threatening infection. In order to keep antibiotics working today, antibiotics need to be reserved for severe infections and new antibiotics need to be created as well. Antibiotic resistance might never be eliminated completely, but work needs to be done to bring down the high percentage of antibiotic resistance rate through education of the importance of prevention of infections.