Antibiotics are often used for infections in children and infants, but are increasingly ineffective. How dangerous is antibiotic resistance for children and are there alternatives?
Middle ear infections, sepsis, meningitis – if these diseases are caused by bacteria, children are often treated with antibiotics. But according to an Australian study conducted by the University of Sydney, less than 50% of antibiotics are effective.
The bacteria no longer respond to the antibiotic and are resistant. There is a lack of new and effective means. This can be especially dangerous for infants and children because their immune systems are still immature. Your immune system cannot yet adequately defend itself against invading bacteria
When giving antibiotics, not only the exact choice of antibiotic is important, but also its dosage. This can often be difficult with antibiotic juice, which is more commonly prescribed to infants and young children than tablet antibiotics.
Because obviously it is easier to give a spoonful of juice to a small child than to make him swallow a tablet.
“It can happen that parents unintentionally make errors in the dosage of antibiotics. In 50 percent of cases, children do not receive the amount prescribed by the doctor,” says Johannes Hübner of the German Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases.
Antibiotics are not always necessary
If it is a serious bacterial infection such as a strep infection, urinary tract infection, or respiratory tract infection, antibiotics are the treatment of choice. They inhibit the growth of bacteria, their reproduction or kill them. And antibiotics work quickly, when they work.
Another infection that affects many infants and children is middle ear infections. According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, they are a common and widespread health disorder among children around the world.
In this disease the mucous membranes of the ear swell, especially in the very thin and short connecting canal, the auricular tube. The secretion can no longer drain and presses on the eardrum. This causes severe pain to children. Symptoms can be resolved relatively quickly with antibiotics.
Are there alternatives?
Herbs that have antimicrobial properties can also be used for some infectious diseases. These include garlic, goldenrod and echinacea. Oregano oil also has an antimicrobial effect. Saline solutions can help with respiratory infections. For middle ear infections, onion sachet is the classic home remedy.
But antibiotics are often the best solution. An example is sepsis, which must be treated immediately. If this does not happen, in the worst case there is a risk of septic shock with organ failure, which can lead to death.
Sepsis often occurs when an external wound becomes infected. This is not uncommon for children. If infectious agents enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system from there, the infection can quickly spread throughout the body and the condition can quickly worsen.
Every year, approximately three million cases of neonatal sepsis are recorded worldwide. About 570,000 of them die.
It all starts with the correct diagnosis
It is often forgotten that only a bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics, but a viral infection cannot. It is therefore important to make the correct diagnosis. This is an important step in treatment.
The situation is particularly dramatic in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. In Indonesia and the Philippines, thousands of children die every year because antibiotics are ineffective.
“On the one hand, not all the antibiotics we have in Europe are always available there. The other is diagnostics. We now identify pathogens very consistently and test for antibiotic sensitivity. “We therefore use the antibiotic with the narrowest spectrum,” explains Johannes Hübner from the German Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases.
The numbers have increased worldwide over the last 15 years. But new antibiotics still take a long time to arrive. “Research neglected antibiotics for a while because antibiotic research is not profitable for pharmaceutical companies,” says Hübner.
Author: Gudrun Heise