Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
Children who suffer from appendicitis may not be facing inevitable surgery, if a new study touting the safety and effectiveness of an antibiotic treatment becomes mainstream practice. More from Reuters:
Forgoing surgery to remove the appendix may not be an option for all kids, researchers say, but just three of 30 children who tried the antibiotics-only route ended up needing surgery.
“In this group of patients with uncomplicated appendicitis – in the people we studied, non-operative management with antibiotics alone appears to be a reasonable alternative,” Dr. Peter Minneci told Reuters Health.
He is the study’s lead author, from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Appendicitis is when the appendix, a small tube-shaped extension of the colon, becomes inflamed and filled with puss. The appendix may burst without treatment and cause a widespread infection.
Although the cause of appendicitis is not known, Minneci said it may often occur when a piece of feces blocks the appendix and allows bacteria to proliferate. Other inflamed tissues may also block the appendix and cause the condition.
“It used to be that people would operate on appendixes in the middle of the night,” he said. “Then we found that it was safe to give them antibiotics and operate on them in the morning.”
Doctors began noticing that some of the children were feeling better in the morning after the initial treatment of antibiotics.
“They were hungry and they didn’t have pain anymore,” Minneci said.
To see whether antibiotics alone might be enough to treat appendicitis, he and his colleagues enrolled 77 children and teens brought to the emergency room at Nationwide Children’s Hospital from October 2012 to October 2013.
All the participants had been diagnosed with uncomplicated acute appendicitis. Their appendixes had not burst, were not overly swollen and imaging did not show a hard piece of stool blocking the organ.
Those uncomplicated cases represent about one in five appendicitis cases at the hospital, the researchers note in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
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Image: Child in hospital, via Shutterstock
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Friday, October 11th, 2013
The overuse–and, in the case of using it to treat the common cold, the improper use–of antibiotic drugs is a problem in most of the developed world. Health experts in the U.S. and overseas worry that over-prescription is resulting in a growing number of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacterial illnesses. To combat the problem and raise awareness, researchers in England are experimenting with having children share the message “Take care, not antibiotics” with each other. More from Reuters:
Starting in January, 13-year-olds at the eighth-grade level in England’s schools will be teaching peers and younger kids about microbes, proper hygiene and why antibiotic overuse is a bad thing. Researchers hope to implement a nation-wide program in September 2014.
“The idea is that the kids will go back home and tell their parents what they’ve learned,” said lead researcher Donna Lecky of Public Health England in the United Kingdom.
To counter a worrisome increase in antibiotic-resistant diseases, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in 2008 designated November 18 as European Antibiotic Awareness Day.
In 2010, 24 European Union states, plus Norway and Iceland, reported their most recent antibiotics use to the ECDC. Overall, numbers of antibiotic doses decreased or stabilized in 15 countries and increased in 11 since the last survey in 2009.
The same report stated that the most commonly prescribed antibiotics in community health clinics, not including hospitals, were drugs in the penicillin family, another category known as macrolides and tetracyclines.
Image: Child with a cold, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, March 21st, 2013
Black children are less likely than kids of other races to receive prescriptions for antibiotics when they visit the doctor, according to a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics. More from the blog The Grio:
The findings are based on 1.3 million doctor visits with the same 222 providers, and were independent of age, gender or type of insurance.
This is not the first time research has shown racial biases among health professionals. A smaller study at the University of Washington, showed that unconscious racial biases affected the amount of pain medication given to black children when they needed it. And a Johns Hopkins study highlighted that primary physicians with unconscious racial biases tended to dominate conversations with black patients, ignore their social needs and exclude them from the decision-making process.
However, today’s study is one of the few to look at its effects on respiratory infections and antibiotic use in children.
“Our goal has always been to find ways to improve antibiotic prescribing for children,” says study author Dr. Jeffrey S. Gerber, who is also assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases.
“These analyses [then] revealed the differences in prescribing by race.”
Although, what this study has uncovered may not be a negative. In the age of antibiotic overprescribing and the fear that unnecessary antibiotics later lead to “superbugs” that are too strong to treat, this may in fact be a good thing.
“Overprescribing of antibiotics to children with [respiratory tract infections] is common,” Gerber says.
Image: Child at the doctor, via Shutterstock
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Friday, February 1st, 2013
An inexpensive course of antibiotics, when given in conjunction with long-used nutritional treatments, could save tens of thousands of children’s lives each year, two new studies have concluded. More from The New York Times:
The studies, in Malawi, led by scientists from Washington University in St. Louis, reveal that severe malnutrition often involves more than a lack of food, and that feeding alone may not cure it.
The antibiotic study found that a week of the medicine raised survival and recovery rates when given at the start of a longer course of a tasty “therapeutic food” made from peanut butter fortified with milk powder, oil, sugar and micronutrients. Malnourished children are prone to infections, and the drugs — either amoxicillin or cefdinir — were so helpful that researchers said medical practice should change immediately to include an antibiotic in the routine treatment of severe malnutrition.
“This is ready for prime time,” said Dr. Indi Trehan, an author of the study. The study was published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. The senior author is Dr. Mark J. Manary, an expert on malnutrition and one of the pioneers in using the fortified peanut butter, which researchers say has saved countless lives.
Because of the results, the World Health Organization expects to recommend broader use of antibiotics in guidelines on treating malnutrition that are to be issued next month, said Zita Weise Prinzo, a technical officer in the group’s nutrition department. A week’s worth of drugs costs only a few dollars, so governments and donors are likely to accept the idea, researchers say.
Image: Empty hands, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
Babies who are given antibiotics before six months of age are at greater risk of being overweight children, a new study has found. Yahoo News reports:
“We typically consider obesity an epidemic grounded in unhealthy diet and exercise, yet increasingly studies suggest it’s more complicated,” said co-author Leonardo Trasande of the New York University School of Medicine.
“Microbes in our intestines may play critical roles in how we absorb calories, and exposure to antibiotics, especially early in life, may kill off healthy bacteria that influence how we absorb nutrients into our bodies, and would otherwise keep us lean.”
The study adds to a growing body of research warning of the potential dangers of antibiotics, especially for children.
Preliminary studies have linked changes in the trillions of microbial cells in our bodies to obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and other conditions. However, direct causal proof has not yet been found.
This was the first study analyzing the relationship between antibiotic use and body mass starting in infancy.
Image: Cute baby, via Shutterstock
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