Half of children are now resistant to some of the most commonly used antibiotics – and these medications could be rendered “ineffective” in the future, warns a new study.
The routine use of antibiotics has been shown by earlier studies to increase the risk for antibiotic resistance among adults. Children worldwide are also some of the leading consumers of these treatments, so how about the threat of bacterial resistance in kids?
The research, performed by researchers from University of Bristol and Imperial College London, saw high levels of resistance in many of the typically prescribed antibiotics for urinary tract infections in children caused by the E. coli bacteria.
The review involving 26 nations and nearly 80,000 samples showed that in western nations or those within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), half of all samples were resistant to ampicillin (amoxicillin). One-third displayed resistance to co-trimoxazole, with a quarter to trimethoprim.
Resistance was seen to be significantly greater among non-OECD nations.
"Prevalence of resistance… is high, particularly in countries outside the OECD, where one possible explanation is the availability of antibiotics over the counter," explains lead study author Ashley Bryce.
According to Dr. Ceire Costelloe, who co-led the study, results also suggested that earlier antibiotic use raised the E.coli resistance risk to a specific antibiotic up to six months following medication.
Urinary tract infections commonly occur in childhood, affecting one in 10 girls and one in 30 boys. In the United Kingdom, the death of baby William Mead earlier this year from blood poisoning raised concerns, as doctors were subjected to “constant pressure” not to prescribe antibiotics despite believing that children needed them.
Professor Grant Russell of Australia’s Monash University called the study findings “compelling evidence” of the need to reexamine current ways to manage UTI in children and cut down on antibiotic use. He expressed doubt on the “will and commitment,” however, to do it.
The findings were discussed in the British Medical Journal.
The World Health Organization has dubbed antibiotic resistance as a global health crisis, with people around the world said to be increasingly becoming confused on the role of antibiotics and the right way to take them.
The resistance is attributed to the overuse and misuse of the drugs, worsening the growth and development of so-called superbugs. These superbugs include strains of tuberculosis, typhoid, and gonorrhea that already killing hundreds of thousands every year.
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