Skip to content

Children's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

What Can Parents Do About Antibiotic Overuse?

Learning which illnesses benefit from antibiotics (and which don't) is just the first step, our expert says.
By
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our January-February 2012 issue, we asked WebMD children's health expert, Roy Benaroch, MD, how parents can help with the problem of antibiotic overuse.

Q: I’m worried that kids -- mine and others -- are taking too many antibiotics too often. What can parents do?

Recommended Related to Children

Backyard and Playground Safety

The backyard offers a world of fun for children. Playgrounds offer even more chances for adventure. But the fun can end abruptly when someone gets hurt. That’s one reason the American Academy of Pediatrics reminds parents to supervise children’s outdoor play, even at home. To protect your kids from injuries, keep these backyard and playground safetytips in mind. Backyard safety basics Start by giving your backyard a once-over: Check to see that your fences are sturdy and in good repair...

Read the Backyard and Playground Safety article > >

A: You’re right to be concerned. Antibiotics are overprescribed. And the potential consequences, including drug-resistant bacteria and hard-to-cure diseases, are real. The problem is due partly to habit (doctors are used to prescribing them) and also to parental pressure. Some doctors feel parents insist on a prescription and are disappointed if they don’t get one. Not all parents do this, but some are very vocal about it. Perhaps doctors have a false impression that all parents want antibiotics all the time.

Doctors need to stand firm, and parents need to learn. Few of the most common upper respiratory infections in children require antibiotics. Most fevers and respiratory infections -- including bronchitis -- are caused by viruses, which don’t respond to antibiotics. Ear infections in children older than 2 usually go away without antibiotics. And most sore throats require antibiotics only if a strep test is positive. A few exceptions, such as bacterial pneumonia, apply -- but not for most of these conditions.

What can you do? Prevent illness by making sure your child’s vaccinations are up to date. Let your pediatrician know you’re fine with not getting antibiotics unless it’s truly necessary. And if your child is prescribed antibiotics, make sure she takes the full dose. Don’t stop or start them on your own without your doctor’s OK.

Reviewed on November 30, 2011

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
jennifer aniston
Slideshow
 
Measles virus
Article
sick child
Slideshow
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool