Pediatric antibiotics decreasing, but still high

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A Sept. 2 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates good news in that the amount of antibiotics pediatricians have prescribed for children under the age of 14 has decreased, however, the overall amount still remains “inappropriately high.”

The report, Office-Related Antibiotic Prescribing for Persons Aged ≤14 Years — United States, 1993–1994 to 2007–2008, compares data from 1993–1994 to 2007–2008. Antibiotic prescribing rates for children ≤14 years who had visited physician offices decreased 24% from 300 antibiotic courses per 1,000 office visits in the 1993–1994 period to 229 antibiotic courses per 1,000 office visits in 2007–2008. Antibiotics for acute respiratory infections (ARI) decreased, but remained the same for otitis media, bronchitis and sinusitis.

But although these changes in physician behavior are encouraging, 58% of the antibiotics prescribed in the office setting in 2007–2008 were for five ARIs, most episodes of which do not require antibiotic treatment but are common outpatient diagnoses for which patient expectations, as well as physician behavior, contribute to inappropriate antibiotic use.

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