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Fewer antibiotics prescribed for children

Antibiotics accounted for about a quarter of all pediatric prescriptions; amoxicillin leads the list.

Overall, 263.6 million prescriptions were written for patients 17 and under in 2010, down 7% from 2002, finds the analysis of prescription claims databases by Food and Drug Administration researchers, published today in the journal Pediatrics. By comparison, 3.3 billion were dispensed for ages 18 and up, 22% more than in 2002.

The medical community has made "an enormous effort to decrease antibiotic use" for kids in the past decade "by educating parents about the futility of treating viral infections with antibiotics" and about antibiotic resistance, the FDA study says.

Those efforts "are succeeding to some extent," but this study and others show antibiotic overuse "is still a big problem," says Adam Hersh, assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah. He says overuse of azithromycin and other broad-spectrum antibiotics "is contributing to the epidemic of antibiotic-resistant infections."

Other drug categories down from 2002-2010 were allergy medications (61%); pain (14%); and cough/cold without expectorant (42%). But prescriptions increasing include corticosteroids for asthma (14%); contraceptives (up 93%, possibly because of secondary uses, such as acne) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (46%).
 
 

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