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TO HEALTH, MEDICAL, AND NATIONAL EDITORS:
Severe diarrheal illness in children linked to antibiotics prescribed
in doctor's offices
ATLANTA, March 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The majority of
pediatric Clostridium difficile infections, which are bacterial
infections that cause severe diarrhea and are potentially
life-threatening, occur among children in the general community who
recently took antibiotics prescribed in doctor's offices for other
conditions, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention published this week in Pediatrics.
The study showed that 71 percent of the cases of C. difficile
infection identified among children aged 1 through 17 years were
community-associated-that is, not associated with an overnight stay in
a healthcare facility. By contrast, two-thirds of C. difficile
infections in adults are associated with hospital stays.
Among the community-associated pediatric cases whose parents were
interviewed, 73 percent were prescribed antibiotics during the 12
weeks prior to their illness, usually in an outpatient setting such as
a doctor's office. Most of the children who received antibiotics were
being treated for ear, sinus, or upper respiratory infections.
Previous studies show that at least 50 percent of antibiotics
prescribed in doctor's offices for children are for respiratory
infections, most of which do not require antibiotics.
"Improved antibiotic prescribing is critical to protect the health of
our nation's children," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.
"When antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly, our children are
needlessly put at risk for health problems including C. difficile
infection and dangerous antibiotic resistant infections."
The FY 2015 President's Budget requests funding for CDC to improve
outpatient antibiotic prescribing practices and protect patients from
infections, such as those caused by C. difficile. The CDC initiative
aims to reduce outpatient prescribing by up to 20 percent and
healthcare-associated C. difficile infections by 50 percent in five
years. A 50 percent reduction in healthcare-associated C. difficile
infections could save 20,000 lives, prevent 150,000 hospitalizations,
and cut more than $2 billion in healthcare costs.
C. difficile, which causes at least 250,000 infections in hospitalized
patients and 14,000 deaths every year among children and adults,
remains at all-time high levels. According to preliminary CDC data,
an estimated 17,000 children aged 1 through 17 years get C. difficile
infections every year. The Pediatrics study found that there was no
difference in the incidence of C. difficile infection among boys and
girls, and that the highest numbers were seen in white children and
those between the ages of 12 and 23 months.
Taking antibiotics is the most important risk factor for developing C.
difficile infections for both adults and children. When a person
takes antibiotics, beneficial bacteria that protect against infection
can be altered or even eliminated for several weeks to months. During
this time, patients can get sick from C. difficile picked up from
contaminated surfaces or spread from a health care provider's hands.
Although there have been significant improvements in antibiotic
prescribing for certain acute respiratory infections in children,
further improvement is greatly needed. In addition, it is critical
that parents avoid asking doctors to prescribe antibiotics for their
children and that doctors follow prescribing guidelines.
"As both a doctor and a mom, I know how difficult it is to see your
child suffer with something like an ear infection," said Lauri Hicks,
DO, director of CDC's Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program.
"Antibiotics aren't always the answer. I urge parents to work with
their child's doctor to find the best treatment for the illness, which
may just be providing symptom relief."
For more information about the Get Smart program and improving
antibiotic prescribing practices in doctor's offices, visit
SOURCE Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
/CONTACT: CDC Media Relations, (404) 639-3286, http://www.cdc.gov/media
/Web Site: http://www.cdc.gov
CO: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
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