Researchers from Oxford, Cardiff and Southampton Universities have been studying the dangers of overprescribing #antibiotics for common #respiratory tract illnesses in children, concluding that children given two or more courses in a year are 30% more likely to have further doses fail. The research was published by the British Journal of General Practice and analysed patient records of more than 250,000 preschool children.
When antibiotics fail to work there is often a need for further drugs and even hospital visits. The lead researcher, Dr Oliver van Hecke, points to the connection between increased antibiotic use and an increase in clinical workload. Whilst antibiotic resistance can in part be to blame for the failure to respond to treatments the study also highlights the issue of antibiotics disrupting the microbiome, limiting young children’s capability to respond to infection.
In order to protect against upper respiratory tract infections (#URTI) probiotics have proved to be beneficial for children. A Cochrane database review of the use of probiotics in URTI studied 13 randomized controlled trials with participants in several age groups. Probiotics were found to be better than the placebo in reducing the number of subjects who experienced acute URTI, the mean duration of acute URTI, the number of antibiotic prescriptions, and cold-related school absences. Allergy Research provides a specific paediatric probiotic called Essential-Biotic Children’s which supports upper respiratory tract health and is linked below.
In response to van Hecke’s study the chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said “This research drives home how important it is for patients – and particularly the parents of young children – to understand that antibiotics do not work for every infection and should not be prescribed for the most common childhood conditions such as colds, coughs, ear infections or sort throats which are usually caused by viruses.
“There is a very difficult balance to be struck as antibiotics can be lifesaving drugs for severe infection-related conditions such as sepsis – but instances where children who have an infection really do need antibiotics should be relatively uncommon.”