Excessive Antibiotic During First Five Years Harmful To Children's Health

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Excessive antibiotic prescriptions are harmful to children's health as per a study by Swiss TPH and Harvard Chan School research team headed by Gunther Fink.

Written By Tanima Ray | Mumbai | Updated On:

A study suggests that prescribing an excess amount of antibiotics during the early first five years of a child resists their ability to fight pathogens. This issue has been noticed in low and middle countries wrote Gunther Fink, lead author of the study and head of the Household Economics and Health Systems Research Unit at Swiss TPH. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), antimicrobial resistance is considered one of the global health and development threats. The excessive use of antibiotics worldwide is one such factor contributing to the threat, he added. 

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Mid-low income countries prescribe excess antibiotics

Health facilities and household surveys from eight countries: Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nepal, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda over 2007-2017  were analyzed by Swiss TPH and Harvard Chan School research team to form the study. It has been noted that mid-low income countries have children who fall sick frequently and they visit the hospital only to be overprescribed by antibiotics. Several studies in Tanzania alone have shown that over 90 per cent of children who visit a health facility receive an antibiotic, although only in about 20 per cent of the treatment of the case was actually required. On average, a child received 25 antibiotic prescriptions through age five a 'remarkable estimate', the authors wrote. 

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Excessive antibiotics are harmful

Antibiotics were administered in 81 per cent of cases for children with a respiratory illness, in 50 per cent for children with diarrhea, and in 28 per cent for children with malaria, as the data collected by the researchers. At the same time, even two antibiotic prescriptions per year are considered excessive in many high-income settings. They are currently comparing policies at a country level to identify best practices that lead to lower antibiotic prescription rates. The researchers said that this excessive intake of antibiotics can also result in a concrete health impact on children. 

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Valerie D'Acremont told the media that excess antibiotic use destroys the natural gut flora which is essential to fighting pathogens.

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