Issues of Antibiotic Resistance in Children

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Dr. S. Banerjee, PhD; Neucrad Health Desk January 23, 2022

Antibiotics are crucial medicinal drugs used in the treatment and prevention of bacteria-mediated infections for humans, animals as well as crops. 

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance happens when the bacteria don’t respond anymore to the antibiotics but rather keep on growing. It’s important to understand that it is the bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics. Surprisingly, sometimes bacteria find natural ways to avoid antibiotic’s effects. However, misuse of antibiotics can accelerate the ongoing antibiotic-resistance issues and lead us to a future where treatment of life-threatening infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria can become harder as well as costlier.

Why is Antibiotic-Resistance a Concern for the Children?

Antibiotic-resistance is one of the biggest global threats to human health, especially to children. With the arrival of newer antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains, many infectious diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis have become difficult to treat in children. 

Common Examples of Antibiotic-Resistant cases for Children

  1. Nowadays, paediatric urologist deals a lot with children’s urinary tract infection (common bacterial infection) cases. Interestingly, the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been found only a consequence of antibiotic usage for treating children’s urinary tract infections. 
  2. Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli is an important causative agent of diarrhoea in both developed and developing countries. Children hospitalized with clinical symptoms of acute gastroenteritis from Cosme and Damião Children Hospital (Brazilian Amazon) were assessed between 2010 and 2012. The study involved antibiotic-resistance profile and the ability of seventy-one Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) isolated from the children and the results significantly indicated the issue of antibiotic-resistance.

Causes of Antibiotic-Resistance

  • Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, antibiotics can be either purchased without a physician’s prescription or get over-prescribed. Such malpractices cause antibiotic over-use and lead to an antibiotic-resistant era for children. 
  • CDC has estimated that about 47 million antibiotic courses are prescribed in U.S. doctors’ offices and emergency departments each year for infections that don’t require antibiotics, e.g. colds and the flu. That’s about 30% of all antibiotics prescribed in that settings and this includes children as patients too!
  • Antibiotics are hugely used as growth supplements for livestock to prevent them from infections, in most developed and developing countries. Surprisingly, around 80% of the sold antibiotics in the U.S. are used for promoting the healthy growth of the animals and receiving larger yields of good quality. However, the problem arises when children ingest the antibiotics used livestock as food.

Protection of Children from Antibiotic-Resistance

Children can be protected from the global problem of antibiotic resistance in the following ways:

  1. Keeping the children and other members of the family healthy by maintaining hygiene, washing hands, taking appropriate prescribed vaccines e.g. the flu vaccine.
  2. Providing antibiotics to the children and others, only when necessary and prescribed by the doctor. 
  3. Asking Doctors for alternative ways to make the children feel better when antibiotics are not needed.
  4. Giving the antibiotic in exact doses to the children as per the doctor’s recommendations.
  5. Do not share anyone’s residual antibiotic medicines with the children.
  6. Never give antibiotics for viruses like colds or flu, because antibiotics don’t work on viruses.
  7. Know proper ways to safely discard the leftover antibiotics so that children don’t get them accidentally.
  8. Do not give any antibiotics suggested by a non-medical person. The side-effects may make the children even sicker.
  9. Talk with your doctor and pharmacist if you have any questions about your antibiotics.

Appropriate antibiotic prescription and consumption can mankind to build a better future for the children of today’s generation. Moreover, while developing antibiotics, the decision-makers should and must analyse the short-term and long-term effects of antibiotic usage in children. Understanding the development of antibiotic-resistance clearly and taking preventive measures and strategies to fight against it can ensure the availability of these lifesaving drugs for future generations. 

References:

  1. Medernach RL, Logan LK. The Growing Threat of Antibiotic Resistance in Children. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2018;32(1):1-17. doi:10.1016/j.idc.2017.11.001
  2. Nicolini G, Sperotto F, Esposito S. Combating the rise of antibiotic resistance in children. Minerva Pediatr. 2014 Feb;66(1):31-9. PMID: 24608580.
  3. Edlin RS, Copp HL. Antibiotic resistance in pediatric urology. Ther Adv Urol. 2014;6(2):54-61. doi:10.1177/1756287213511508
  4. Lutter SA, Currie ML, Mitz LB, Greenbaum LA. Antibiotic resistance patterns in children hospitalized for urinary tract infections. Arch PediatrAdolesc Med. 2005 Oct;159(10):924-8. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.159.10.924. PMID: 16203936.
  5. Abuhandan M, Güzel B, Oymak Y, Çiftçi H. Antibiotic sensitivity and resistance in children with urinary tract infection in Sanliurfa. Turk J Urol. 2013;39(2):106-110. doi:10.5152/tud.2013.022
  6. Koçak M, Büyükkaragöz B, ÇelebiTayfur A, Çaltik A, Köksoy AY, Çizmeci Z, Günbey S. Causative pathogens and antibiotic resistance in children hospitalized for urinary tract infection. Pediatr Int. 2016 Jun;58(6):467-71. doi: 10.1111/ped.12842. Epub 2016 Feb 3. PMID: 26513232.
  7. Bryce A, Hay AD, Lane IF, Thornton HV, Wootton M, Costelloe C. Global prevalence of antibiotic resistance in paediatric urinary tract infections caused by Escherichia coli and association with routine use of antibiotics in primary care: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2016;352:i939. Published 2016 Mar 15. doi:10.1136/bmj.i939
  8. Singh AK, Das S, Singh S, et al. Prevalence of antibiotic resistance in commensal Escherichia coli among the children in rural hill communities of Northeast India. PLoS One. 2018;13(6):e0199179. Published 2018 Jun 18. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0199179
  9. Abuhandan M, Güzel B, Oymak Y, Çiftçi H. Antibiotic sensitivity and resistance in children with urinary tract infection in Sanliurfa. Turk J Urol. 2013 Jun;39(2):106-10. doi: 10.5152/tud.2013.022. PMID: 26328090; PMCID: PMC4548590.

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