Diarrhea linked to prescribing unnecessary antibiotics

Dr. Frieden

Severe diarrheal illness — Clostridium difficile — is linked to antibiotics prescribed in U.S. doctor’s offices, federal health officials say.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said the majority of pediatric C. difficile infections, which are bacterial infections that cause severe diarrhea and are potentially life-threatening, occur among children in the general community who recently took antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices for other conditions.

A study by the CDC, published in the journal Pediatrics, found 71 percent of the cases of C. difficile infection identified among children ages 1 to 17 were community-associated — that is, not associated with an overnight stay in a healthcare facility.

In contrast, two-thirds of C. difficile infections in adults are associated with hospital stays, he said.

Among the community-associated pediatric cases whose parents were interviewed, 73 percent were prescribed antibiotics during the 12 weeks prior to their illness, usually in an out-patient setting such as a doctor’s office. Most of the children who received antibiotics were being treated for ear, sinus, or upper respiratory infections, the study said.

Previous studies showed at least 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices for children are for respiratory infections, most of which do not require antibiotics, Frieden said.

“Improved antibiotic prescribing is critical to protect the health of our nation’s children,” Frieden said in a statement. “When antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly, our children are needlessly put at risk for health problems including C. difficile infection and dangerous antibiotic resistant infections.”

C. difficile causes at least 250,000 infections in hospitalized patients and 14,000 deaths every year among children and adults. Preliminary CDC data show an estimated 17,000 children age 1 to 17 get C. difficile infections every year…

When a person takes antibiotics, beneficial bacteria that protect against infection can be altered or even eliminated for several weeks to months. During this time, patients can get sick from C. difficile picked up from contaminated surfaces or spread from a healthcare provider’s hands.

Our culture persists in looking for easy solutions, the magic bullet that will resolve all illness with a single prescription. Preferably sugar-coated.

5 thoughts on “Diarrhea linked to prescribing unnecessary antibiotics

  1. Doc says:

    According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, almost 2 million Americans per year develop hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), resulting in 99,000 deaths, the vast majority of which are due to antibacterial (antibiotic)-resistant pathogens. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) alone kills more people (approximately 19,000) than HIV/AIDS.
    80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are employed to provide subtherapeutic doses in animal feed to promote growth and improve feed efficiency in contemporary intensive animal farming.
    However, according to the National Pork Producers Council, “Not only is there no scientific study linking antibiotic use in food animals to antibiotic resistance in humans, as the U.S. pork industry has continually pointed out, but there isn’t even adequate data to conduct a study.” Similarly the National Pork Board, a Government-owned corporation of the United States, has said that “the vast majority of producers use (antibiotics) appropriately.”
    …go figure

  2. Zing says:

    See “Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues” By Dr. Martin J. Blaser, NYT Health April 29, 2014 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/health/missing-microbes-how-antibiotics-can-do-harm.html
    …Big Pharma’s answer? “Da Volterra is developing DAV132, a novel product with a unique mechanism of action which can prevent the side effects of antibiotics on the flora, thus reducing the occurrence and recurrence of C.difficile infections. DAV132 is composed of an adsorbent encapsulated in a drug delivery system adapted to the human physiology for a targeted delivery to the lower gastro-intestinal tract.” Preventing antibiotic side effects: an interview with Florence Séjourné, CEO, Da Volterra http://www.news-medical.net/news/20140625/Preventing-antibiotic-side-effects-an-interview-with-Florence-Sejourne-CEO-Da-Volterra.aspx

  3. Kendra says:

    “Pediatricians prescribe antibiotics about twice as often as they’re actually needed for children with ear and throat infections, a new study indicates. More than 11 million antibiotic prescriptions written each year for children and teens may be unnecessary, according to researchers from University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital. This excess antibiotic use not only fails to eradicate children’s viral illnesses, researchers said, but supports the dangerous evolution of bacteria toward antibiotic resistance.”

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