Antibiotic resistance rising in children too

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Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern and its impact on patients and communities are known to us all. This is a public health problem, one which is rapidly spreading across the globe, with not enough resources to control it. Antibiotic resistance has made it harder for us to treat many infections such as typhoid, pneumonia, tuberculosis. Antibiotic resistance prolongs hospitalization, increased cost of treatment and increases risk of death. Several studies have corroborate the adverse impact of antibiotic resistance on health.

Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio examined the prevalence of multidrug-resistant Gram-negative enteric Enterobacteriaceae (MDR-GNE) infection in children between January 1, 2007, and March 31, 2015 and its association with hospital length of stay and death before discharge. This retrospective study observed an astounding 700% increase in MDR-GNE infections in a short period of eight years. A 20% increase in the lengths of hospital stay was observed in patients with MDR-GNE infection. The odds for death also increased, though this did not reach statistical significance. More than 75% of the antibiotic-resistant infections were already present at the time of hospitalization, contradicting earlier studies which showed that such infections were most hospital acquired.” The study is published in the March 2017 issue of the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.

This study has yet again highlighted the escalating problem of antibiotic resistance. It has shown that antibiotic resistance can affect individuals of any age, even children.

In its first global report on antibiotic resistance, the WHO has warned that “A post-antibiotic era—in which common infections and minor injuries can kill—far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century”. Doctors as well as patients should be aware about and advocate judicious use of antibiotics. Over prescription and self prescription, both, need to be checked.

Taking cognizance of the impact of antibiotic-resistant infections, IMA has proposed several initiatives to tackle this public health threat – “Jaroorat Bhi Hai Kya”, “3A Avoid Antibiotic Abuse campaign”, “Use Wisely not Widely”, “Think Before you Ink”. IMA will also come out with a book on ‘When Not to Use Antibiotics’. We are also concerned about declining research in the field of newer antibiotics and support formulation of a national antibiotic policy.

(Source: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, News Release, February 24, 2017)

Dr KK Aggarwal
National President IMA & HCFI