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Antibiotics Prescribed For Children Twice As Often As Needed -- More Than 11 Million Potentially Useless Prescriptions Last Year

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Yikes, this is a crisis:

Just 27 percent of acute respiratory tract infections are caused by bacteria, researchers at Seattle Children's Hospital found. That means that more than two-thirds are viral and antibiotics don't help.

But doctors prescribed antibiotics for children with those infections 57 percent of the time, the study found. In other words, children are taking medication that's not going to help them and can hurt, because of side effects and the increased risk of antibiotic resistance, both for that person and for the larger community.

That adds up to about 11 million potentially needless prescriptions each year.

Cutting back on unnecessary use of antibiotics is a "pressing concern," the authors write in Monday's Pediatrics. More than half of all outpatient antibiotic prescriptions are for respiratory infections, they note, which includes ears, noses and throats.

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