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CDC, AAP Issue New Guidelines Limiting Antibiotic Use in Children

CDC, AAP Issue New Guidelines Limiting Antibiotic Use in Children - BabbleThe US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is urging pediatricians to limit use of antibiotics in children to when, you know, antibiotics will actually be helpful. (C’mon, that’s just crazy talk.)

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has simultaneously released a report that helps pediatricians identify when antibiotics will be helpful for respiratory infections.

Both the CDC and the AAP note that children’s respiratory infections are most often caused by viruses, which won’t be helped by antibiotics. The CDC says that every year as many as 10 million U.S. children risk side effects from antibiotic prescriptions that are unlikely to help their upper respiratory conditions. For example, antibiotics will not help colds and flu, most coughs and bronchitis, sore throat (other than strep throat), and runny noses.

Over-use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, which occurs when bacteria evolve and are able to outsmart antibiotics, making even common infections difficult to treat. The CDC’s most recent data shows that more than 2 million Americans get infections each year that are resistant to antibiotics. An estimated 23,000 Americans die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections.

“Our medicine cabinet is nearly empty of antibiotics to treat some infections,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “If doctors prescribe antibiotics carefully and patients take them as prescribed, we can preserve these lifesaving drugs and avoid entering a post-antibiotic era.”

The CDC and AAP hope that by providing detailed clinical criteria to help physicians distinguish between viral and bacterial upper respiratory tract infections, children will receive more effective care. At the same time, it will help limit antibiotic prescriptions, giving bacteria fewer chances to become resistant and lowering children’s risk of side effects.

“Many people have the misconception that since antibiotics are commonly used that they are harmless,” says Dr. Lauri Hicks, a coauthor of the report and medical director of CDC’s Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program. “Taking antibiotics when you have a virus can do more harm than good.”

Dr. Hicks said that the harm can come in the form of antibiotic side effects for the individual child, and promoting the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can then spread through a community.

So what can a parent to do help their child feel better when antibiotics won’t help? The CDC offers plenty of tips for parents on treating the symptoms of viral illnesses like sore throats and runny noses.

Sore Throat:

  • Soothe a sore throat with ice chips, sore throat spray, or lozenges (but don’t give lozenges to young children as they can present a choking hazard).
  • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.
  • Ask your pediatrician if it’s appropriate to give your child acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to relieve pain or fever. (Read more here about safe use of fever and pain relievers in children.

Ear Pain:

  • Put a warm moist cloth over the ear that hurts.
  • Ask your pediatrician if it’s appropriate to give your child acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to relieve pain or fever. (Read more here about safe use of fever and pain relievers in children.)

Runny Nose:

  • Use saline nasal spray to help relieve symptoms.
  • Ask your pediatrician if it’s appropriate to give your child a decongestant. (Read more here about kids and decongestants.)

Sinus Pain/Pressure:

  • Put a warm compress over the nose and forehead to help relieve sinus pressure.
  • Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower.
  • Use saline nasal spray.
  • Ask your pediatrician if it’s appropriate to give your child a decongestant. (Read more here about kids and decongestants.)
  • Ask your pediatrician if it’s appropriate to give your child acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to relieve pain or fever. (Read more here about safe use of fever and pain relievers in children.)

Cough:

  • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.
  • Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower.

Remember, over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medications are not recommended for children under the age of four. Parents should consult with their pediatrician before using any OTC cough and cold medicine in kids age four and up, because overuse and misuse of OTC cough and cold medicines in children can result in serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

 

Read more from Joslyn on Babble and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow Joslyn on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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