Health: Antibiotic prescriptions for children are on the rise again

Posted Nov 2, 2022, 8:19 AMUpdated Nov 2, 2022, 10:48 a.m.

The hassles of winter are back: bronchitis, flu, sore throats and other illnesses that take advantage of the drop in temperatures and the return to school to attack children in particular. Faced with these conditions, the use of antibiotics is still too often a reflex, especially for young children, Public Health France alert in a report published on Wednesday.

Unveiled by “Le Parisien”, the study by the health authority notes that around 700 prescriptions per 1,000 inhabitants were made in 2021. This shows a resurgence in the consumption of antibiotics, after ten years of continuous decline. France is thus positioned as the fourth European country where the taking of this type of medicine is the most important, behind Greece, Romania and Bulgaria.

” Antibiotics are not automatic “

Despite “Antibiotics are not automatic”, the slogan tirelessly repeated for twenty years by the authorities, this revival is particularly important among 0-4 year olds, very sensitive to winter infections. And yet, “in fact, 99% of bronchitis and nasopharyngitis are viral; for angina in children, this is the case 7 times out of 10”, explains a pediatrician quoted by “Le Parisien”. In other words, antibiotics are mostly useless.

But the report points to the persistence of bias among the French. More than three-quarters (77%) think antibiotics are effective against acute bronchitis. Nearly a third (65%) see it as a cure for bronchiolitis. More than half (53%) are ready to use them against the flu, which is a viral infection.

On the side of doctors too, the use of antibiotics is sometimes a little hasty. For angina, there are tests to determine if they are of bacterial or viral origin. However, “only 30% of doctors use them”, underlines “Le Parisien”.

Risky overconsumption

While antibiotics are effective, and sometimes even essential, against infections of bacterial origin, their misuse is not without risk. First, because they are used against bacterial infections, they eliminate sensitive bacteria. But antibiotic-resistant bacteria can then proliferate. At the risk of increasing bacterial infections against which known antibiotics are ineffective.

Another risk, this time individual. A pediatrician quoted by “Le Parisien” warns of the harmful consequences of the overconsumption of antibiotics on the microbiota, that is to say the microorganisms which live in the human body and contribute to its overall balance, such as the flora intestinal. The microbiota can become unbalanced by antibiotics, which can ultimately lead to chronic diseases.

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