- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Federal health authorities have issued new guidelines for the prescription and use of antibiotics in children, saying they’ve been misused and prescribed in error for years — leading to a scenario that could soon see the medication rendered useless.

Bacteria have been able to strengthen and resist certain antibiotics in recent years because the medicine has been overprescribed, many in the medical community have argued. That means antibiotics gradually are becoming useless in the fight against certain bacteria-related illnesses, and health officials have been watching this scene unfold with alarm.

“Many people have the misconception that since antibiotics are commonly used that they are harmless,” said Dr. Lauri Hicks, United Press International reported. “Taking antibiotics when you have a virus can do more harm than good.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics have partnered to write the new federal guidelines, in “Principles of Judicious Antibiotic Prescribing for Bacterial Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Pediatrics.”

Among the recommendations: Don’t prescribe antibiotics for viral diagnoses. Weight benefits against harm when prescribing antibiotics. Prescribe antibiotics for the shortest period of time possible.

Doctors hope the new guidance might keep antibiotics as a viable medication and treatment for years.

“Our medicine cabinet is nearly empty of antibiotics to treat some infections,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, in the UPI report. “If doctors prescribe antibiotics carefully and patients take them as prescribed, we can preserve these lifesaving drugs and avoid entering a post-antibiotic era.”

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