Fewer Antibiotics Prescribed For Kids

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COLUMBIA - USA Today reports a 14% decline in antibiotic prescriptions for kids from 2002 to 2010. But why such a decline?

"There has been a lot of discussion in the medical field about over prescribing and I think physicians have made an effort to minimize antibiotic use when it is not indicated," said Pharmacist Bill Morrissey.

Emergency room trained physcian Jason Zerrer said that educating parents has also influenced this number.

"If a parent comes in and their child has a runny nose or something, some parents expect an antibiotic but as a doctor you have to explain to them that the body just needs to run its course, basically the tough man speech. And most time patients are OK," said Zerrer.

"Normally, if it just a virus a little 24 hour virus than no, no antibiotics," said Zell Harris, parent of an 8-year-old son.

Doctors say it was not always this easy.

"I think there was a tendency that if parents came in because their child was sick even though we think it is a viral infection and we were not sure if it was treatable by the antibiotics we gave the antibiotic anyway to either pacify the parents or to prevent the virus from turning into a bacteria infection," said Morrissey.

To keep the decline of antibiotics, doctors say they must be willing to level with their patients.

"We explain to patients, your symptoms today are viral; lets treat it like a virus. Drink lots of fluids, get rest and then we watch them to see how it progresses. If things change we can always reevaluate but usually after 5-10 days a virus is on its way out," said Zerrer.

In addition, USA Today reports other drug categories down in the past 10 years have been allergy medicines.

"We're getting smarter, there is more data, more studies, and we are questioning these medicines and are saying do all these cold medicines really work and the vast majority are saying no. Sometimes, we just have to let these things run its course," said Zerrer.

In comparison 3.3 billion prescriptions were dispensed for ages 18 and up in 2010, 22% more than 2002 according to USA Today.

Zerrer said there are many reasons behind this study.

"Well the elderly population is included in there," said Zerrer. It could be new infections, maybe adult doctors have not received the message, or maybe it is because MRSA staff bacteria is much more prevalent now than it was years ago that could account for some of it. But there is definitely not one answer to that."

USA Today reports antibiotics still accounts for the most frequently prescribed drug for pediatric patient.

According to Zerrer, this will affect future medicine.

"When it comes to the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] that's one of their main issues is what resistance bacteria means for the future because you have to keep up with antibiotics and if you cant find one that's going to work that trouble is going to ensue in a big way," said Zerrer.

Both Morrissey and Zerrer agree through reasonable approach and good follow up, we can continue to weed patients off antibiotics unless they are necessary.