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Could Medicine Be Making Your Kids Sick?

Last Christmas, St. Louis mom Linda Churchwell-Varga noticed what looked like four little bug bites on her 3-year-old daughter Oona's bottom. Diaper ointment helped at first, but within a few days, more bumps cropped up. They were so painful, Oona refused to sit in a grocery cart. Recalls Linda: "I knew I had to get her to the doctor first thing in the morning."

Within hours of waking up that next day, Oona was admitted to the hospital. A culture revealed the "bites" were in fact a bacterial infection that was resistant to several common antibiotics, and Oona's doctors feared it might spread to her blood, becoming life-threatening. It took two days of powerful antibiotics, plus periodic sedation in order to drain and pack the wounds, to get Oona's infection under control.

Oona's story is an all-too-familiar one: Antibiotic resistance started making headlines about 10 years ago, when experts discovered that thanks to 60 years of excessive use of the meds, many common bacteria had learned how to outsmart them. As these bacteria reproduce and become more powerful, fewer drugs are strong enough to combat even common infections, rendering the bugs more dangerous. Unfortunately, kids are most vulnerable: Children have the highest rate of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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