According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “antibiotic use contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance on both the individual and country level.” It is for this reason that antibiotics should only be prescribed for ailments where they can actually have an impact. Acute respiratory infections (ARIs) in children normally do not require antibiotic treatment, yet many medical physicians still prescribe antibiotics.
A recent report by the CDC found that the rate of prescription by medical doctors for five common ARIs is still too high. The five identified are: pharyngitis (sore throat/swollen tonsils), the common cold, otitis media (middle ear infection), bronchitis, and sinusitis. The study found that:
“First, 58% of the antibiotics prescribed in the office setting in 2007–2008 were for five ARIs most episodes of which do not require antibiotic treatment but are common outpatient diagnoses for which patient expectations, as well as physician behavior, contribute to inappropriate antibiotic use. Second, prescribing antibiotics for otitis media has not decreased significantly, despite the American Academy of Pediatrics 2004 release of guidelines recommending watchful waiting for otherwise healthy children aged ≥2 years without severe symptoms of otitis media or with an uncertain diagnosis.”
As noted above, parents can play a role in reducing the risks of antibiotic resistance. To do so, parents should first not request antibiotics from their medical doctor (MD) unless absolutely necessary. If your MD prescribes an antibiotic for a respiratory infection, parents should ask the doctor if the antibiotic is really necessary.