If livestock in factory farms are purposefully enhanced by giving antibiotics to young animals, what are we doing to our children when we give them many similar medications in early age?
Antibiotics in growth period: Avoid at any cost.
“There is a clear and alarming upswing throughout this country of antibiotic resistant Enterobacteriaceae infections in kids and teens,” said lead author Sharon B. Meropol, MD, PhD, a pediatrician and epidemiologist at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. “This makes it harder to effectively treat our patients’ infections. The problem is compounded because there are fewer antibiotics approved for young people than adults to begin with. Health care providers have to make sure we only prescribe antibiotics when they’re really needed. It’s also essential to stop using antibiotics in healthy agricultural animals.”
Antibiotic resistance: a burgeoning problem for kids too
n the retrospective study, Meropol and co-authors Allison A. Haupt and Sara M. Debanne, both from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, analyzed medical data from nearly 94,000 patients under the age of 18 years diagnosed with Enterobacteriaceae-associated infections at 48 children’s hospitals throughout the U.S. The average age was 4.1 years. Enterobacteriaceae are a family of bacteria; some types are harmless, but they also include such pathogens as Salmonellaand Escherichia coli. Enterobacteriaceae are responsible for a rising proportion of serious bacterial infections in children.
The researchers found that the share of these infections resistant to multiple antibiotics rose from 0.2 percent in 2007 to 1.5 percent in 2015, a seven-fold-plus increase in a short, eight-year span. Children with other health problems were more likely to have the infections while there were no overall differences based on sex or insurance coverage. The yearly number of discharges with Enterobacteriaceae-associated infections remained relatively stable over the course of the study years.
In a key finding, more than 75 percent of the antibiotic-resistant infections were already present when the young people were admitted to the hospital, upending previous findings that the infections were mostly picked up in the hospital. “This suggests that the resistant bacteria are now more common in many communities,” said Meropol. For reasons that are unclear, older children and those living in the Western U.S. were more likely to have the infections.
The investigators also found that young people with antibiotic-resistant infections stayed in the hospital 20 percent longer than those whose infections could be addressed by antibiotics. Additionally, there was a greater—but not statistically significant—risk of death among pediatric patients infected with the resistant bacterial strains.