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Warning over antibiotic resistance

Source PA News

Updated on 27 July 2007

Doctors have been warned to cut down the amount of antibiotics they prescribe to children.

Experts said the practice was creating high levels of resistance to antibiotics among the UK population, with children being the group receiving most antibiotics outside of hospitals.

David Mant and colleagues at the University of Oxford warned that prescriptions for the drugs were on the rise again after enjoying a significant drop.

Writing online for the British Medical Journal, they cited a 1999 paper which reported that more than half (55%) of children aged up to five received an average of 2.2 prescriptions from their GP each year for an antibiotic such as amoxicillin.

Although there had been an estimated 40% drop since then, unpublished data suggests that antibiotic prescribing in the community is on the rise again, they said.

They studied the relationship between prescribing antibiotics for acute respiratory tract infection in children in Oxfordshire and the build-up of resistance.

From a group of 119 patients, 71 received amoxicillin while 48 were given no antibiotic.

The study revealed that, among children not given the antibiotic, there was no rise in the proportion developing resistance.

But in children prescribed the drug, the number carrying resistant bacteria more than doubled at a follow-up at two weeks.

This fell back close to the initial level by 12 weeks, but the effect may be sufficient to sustain a high level of antibiotic resistance in the population, the experts warned.

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