Antibiotics improve our lives in innumerable ways, but there is growing concern that their overuse is increasingly exposing the public to drug-resistant bacteria. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.
“In many ways, antibiotics are victims of their own success,” said Dr. Scott Weissman, an infectious disease specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “When antibiotics first came into being in the 1940’s, they were hailed as miraculous, and they were, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing.”
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is observing its annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. During this time, the CDC, along with other healthcare organizations and partners, is highlighting the importance of appropriate antibiotic use. Weissman, a nationally-known expert who is in Washington D.C. participating in some of the events for Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, took time to answer some questions about what antibiotic resistance is, and what we can do about it.
What are the current recommendations for giving antibiotics to children?
First off, there is no single solution or strategy that is right for every situation. Antibiotics should be given only when they are necessary, but I think we can all agree that the standard practice of many providers has been far less disciplined. This has led many to view receiving a prescription for antibiotics as the expectation of a doctor’s visit, rather than the exception.