When to give antibiotics to children

When to give antibiotics to children

Researchers have been saying this for some time, but their call often goes unheeded: antibiotics are prescribed more often than necessary, especially in Del Paese and especially for children. Instead, antibiotics should only be given if the bacterial nature of an infection is ascertained. The Risks of Abuse? Undesirable effects but also, over time, the development of bacterial resistance.

When should antibiotics be used

"Antibiotics are only useful if there are infections caused by bacteria, which make up about 40% of respiratory infections, while they are completely ineffective if the perpetrators are viruses, as happens in 60% of cases" immediately summarizes Clavenna, Head of Pharmacoepidemiology Unit - Maternal and Child Health Laboratory of the Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research.

It is true that, through the examination and description of the symptoms alone, the doctor has no way of establishing with certainty whether the child has a bacterial or viral infection, even if there are the notorious plaques in the throat. Only for pharyngotonsillitis, the pediatrician has available (but unfortunately not in all Regions of the Paesene, for budget reasons) an outpatient test which, with a simple pharyngeal swab, tells in a few minutes if there is a bacterial infection with Streptococcus or not. .

Better to wait a few days before giving the antibiotic

How should it be regulated then? For some years, especially in Northern European countries, a wait-and-see attitude has prevailed: if the child's ailments are not particularly serious and the picture is not worrying, we prefer to wait at least 2-3 days to see how the situation evolves and , only if the symptoms do not regress but rather become accentuated (for example the fever remains high or the cough intensifies), it is deduced that most likely it is a pathology of bacterial origin and the antibiotic is prescribed. In Del Paese this attitude of 'watchful waiting' is adopted almost exclusively in the case of otitis.

  • "On the other hand, numerous studies have shown that, even in the case of bacterial infection, if the antibiotic is not administered, the infection would still heal itself, while the drug is only able to accelerate by one day - one day and means healing, so its usefulness is reduced ”Clavenna points out.
  • What if there is a Streptococcal infection, accused of causing complications such as rheumatic pathology? "Rheumatic pathology is an infrequent complication, which can involve pain and swelling in the joints and, in very rare cases, problems with the kidneys or heart valves" specifies Antionio Clavenna: "but even if they waited 5-6 days before to establish antibiotic therapy, it would still be possible to avoid complications ". READ ALSO: ANTIBIOTICS TO CHILDREN? WITH CAUTION

    Because antibiotics must not be abused

    Antibiotic therapy can cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or allergic reactions such as hives. "But the most serious risk of the reckless use of antibiotics is for the community and for future generations and is represented by bacterial resistance" the expert points out: "there is a risk that in the long run, strains of resistant bacteria are selected to antibiotics, against which effective therapies cannot be found.

    For the moment the problem seems confined to the hospital environment, where more potent antibiotics are used for particularly aggressive bacteria, but it cannot be excluded that it may also extend to the community, if resistant bacteria replicate and spread ”. Without considering that each of us may need hospitalization to eradicate any infections.

    Antibiotics: no to do-it-yourself and not over the phone

    The antibiotic is a drug that it must only be taken on prescription: you cannot decide to give the child the antibiotic just because you already have it at home, just as you cannot ask the pediatrician to prescribe it over the phone without having visited the child.


    “Parents often think that drugs solve everything and that it is also necessary to take them to treat trivial pathologies; and doctors often 'give in' to the parents' requests to receive a drug, which however serves more to calm their anxieties than for a real need ”concludes Clavenna.


    "The antibiotic is an effective drug, but for its effectiveness to be preserved it is necessary to administer it only if you cannot do without it and not as a 'first choice' at the first cough, at the first earache or at the first access of fever of the child ".


    Read also: Medicines for children: instructions for use, exanthematous diseases, symptoms and treatments FROM THE FORUM: ANTIBIOTIC AND COUGH





    • cough
    • bronchitis
    • fever
    • 1-2 children years
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