On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that doctors are prescribing fewer antibiotics to kids at a rate that fell 24 percent in 2007 to 2008.
The CDC has been making a push for years in a public health campaign asking doctors to reduce the amount of antibiotics given to children. The agency says they are often used but they don’t work against viral illnesses like colds and flu. While they do fight infections caused by bacteria, misuse can lead to resistance.
Experts say doctors inappropriately prescribe antibiotics more than 50 percent of the time and more often with respiratory infections.
Still, despite the decrease, prescription rates remain “inappropriately high.” According to the report, the majority of prescriptions, 58 percent, were for acute respiratory infections, most of which do not require antibiotics. Patient expectations to receive antibiotics as well as physician habits are credited for the overuse.
Doctors have not always followed recommendations to cut back on antibiotics, partly because of pressure from parents, said Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, chairman of pediatrics at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York.
Parents who have been up with sick, screaming kids in the middle of the night tend to expect more from doctors than advice to keep an eye on the problem. Often, they want antibiotics, and may not stop at one physician to get them, he said. “In this new age of consumerism, they will go somewhere else and get what they want,” Bromberg said.