Local News

Doctors Becoming Less Likely To Prescribe Antibiotics

Posted June 18, 2002 5:00 a.m. EDT

— More than a decade ago, doctors frequently prescribed antibiotics to children for a variety of illnesses. That trend led to antibiotic resistance -- a problem far worse than any ear infection. However, that trend may finally be on the decline.

When your child is sick, you usually take them to the doctor. If it is a bacterial infection, you will leave with a prescription for an antibiotic. If it is viral, like a cold, the doctor will send you home with instructions on how to care for your sick child, but most likely without an antibiotic.

Researchers for the

Journal of the American Medical Association

kept track of the number of prescriptions for antibiotics and they found significant changes in the way doctors now prescribe them.

"We found that the number of antibiotics prescribed to children seen in physician offices in the United States for respiratory infections decreased from 37 million in 1989 to 23 million in 2000," said Linda McCaig of the National Center for Health Statistics.

McCaig feels there are several reasons for the decline. She said many parents have accepted that viral illnesses do not need antibiotics.

"It could also mean that clinicians are not treating certain conditions with antibiotics that they did in the past, such as fluid behind the eardrum," she said.

Even if the current levels of resistance cannot be reversed, it could prolong the life of newer antibiotics.

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