700pc rise in superbug infections in US kids
Scientists have found a 700-per cent surge in infections caused by bacteria from the Enterobacteriaceae family resistant to multiple kinds of antibiotics among children in the US.
These antibiotic resistant infections are in turn linked to longer hospital stays and potentially greater risk of death.
The study by researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in the US is the first known effort to comprehensively examine the problem of multi-drug resistant infections among patients under 18 admitted to US children's hospitals with Enterobacteriaceae infections.
Earlier studies focused mainly on adults, while some looked at young people in more limited geographical areas, such as individual hospitals or cities, or used more limited surveillance data.
"There is a clear and alarming upswing throughout this country of antibiotic resistant Enterobacteriaceae infections in kids and teens," said lead author Sharon B Meropol, from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
"This makes it harder to effectively treat our patients' infections. The problem is compounded because there are fewer antibiotics approved for young people than adults to begin with.
"Health care providers have to make sure we only prescribe antibiotics when they're really needed. It's also essential to stop using antibiotics in healthy agricultural animals," said Meropol.
In the retrospective study, Meropol and colleagues analysed medical data from nearly 94,000 patients under the age of 18 years diagnosed with Enterobacteriaceae-associated infections at 48 children's hospitals throughout the US. The average age was 4.1 years.
Enterobacteriaceae are a family of bacteria; some types are harmless, but they also include such pathogens as Salmonella and Escherichia coli; Enterobacteriaceae are responsible for a rising proportion of serious bacterial infections in children. The study was published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.