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What Are the Pros and Cons of Antibiotics for Children?

Many cases of bacterial infection such as meningitis and staph infections can be particularly dangerous.
Most ear infections go away on their own, but if not a doctor may prescribe a child antibiotics.
Immediate cleaning and bandaging of cuts will help prevent staph infection.
Article Details
  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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One of the most important advantages of antibiotics for children is that they can treat certain infections that can be especially dangerous for children. In cases of emergency where a simple infection becomes acute and life-threatening, taking antibiotics can save the child’s life. As for the cons, one pressing issue is that bacteria can and may develop an antibiotic resistance, causing the medication to become useless. Antibiotics for children also have a tendency to be misused, sometimes wrongly prescribed, in order to immediately ease the child’s discomfort and pain.

Ever since its discovery and development way back in the 1930s, antibiotics have shown their efficacy in fighting off many harmful bacteria and treating many infections. One particular harmful bacterium to children is the “streptococcus” strain, which causes ear infection, a common condition for children less than 2 years of age. Usually, symptoms of the ear infection go away on their own, but if there is a prolonged presence, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics for children, which can give quick results.

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Many cases of bacterial infection such as meningitis and staph infections can be particularly dangerous, because if the bacteria continue to live in the body, they might penetrate the bloodstream and affect various parts of the body. There have even been several incidents where staph infections resulted to cardiac problems. In these emergency cases, antibiotics may be administered immediately. For preventative measures, parents also have the option to let their babies receive a vaccine that prevents infections such as pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis.

Antibiotics for children may be known for their effectiveness, but they are also known to cause bacteria to become resistant to treatment. Doctors and scientists have observed that, over the years, certain strains of bacteria have mutated and have become resistant to several medically-prescribed antibiotics. As a result, children may need more powerful doses of different antibiotics in order to kill the “super bugs,” but the prolonged exposure to antibiotics might weaken their immune system and further promote other bacteria strains to become resistant. In worse cases, the bacterial infection may become incurable, and the child may just have to wait it out until his own immune system fights off the infection.

Another con of antibiotics for children is their tendency to be overused and misused. There have been cases wherein parents would ask a doctor for an antibiotic prescription for their children experiencing coughs and colds, but these symptoms are usually caused by viruses, not bacteria, so antibiotics are generally pointless. These cases are not uncommon in developing countries, where antibiotics are available over the counter. To prevent misuse, doctors often suggest to parents to wait for a few days before buying antibiotics; if the child is feeling better, then there is no need to take the medication. If antibiotics are already taken, it is important that the child take the whole duration of the treatment course even after he becomes well, to lessen the chances of bacterial resistance.

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