Many Parents Are Still Confused About Antibiotics

Think you know whether or not your kid needs antibiotics? It turns out, many parents are still unsure of what antibiotics do and when their children should receive them, according to a recently released study.

In fact, the research, which appears in the journal of Pediatrics, found that American parents with Medicaid (government-run program) insurance are more likely to have misconceptions about antibiotics than parents with private commercial insurance.

Researchers examined about 700 parents with kids under the age of 6. The parents—roughly half had Medicaid and the other half had private insurance—were asked questions regarding their knowledge of antibiotics. Less than half of parents with Medicaid (44 percent) answered correctly when asked if antibiotics are needs for the common cold or flu, while almost 80 percent of parents with private insurance answered correctly.

"While not confirmed, it is possible that the combination of health literacy and underlying socioeconomic factors could contribute to both the misconceptions and expectations for antibiotics," notes Louise Vaz, M.D., assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases and medical director of the Outpatient Antibiotic Therapy Program at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

Experts concluded that the overarching issue is education. It's clear that many individuals don't realize that the majority of infections people contract are viral, and viruses don't respond to antibiotic treatment. In order to combat these misconceptions, it's especially important for patients to create a relationship with their doctor so that they receive consistent messages.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.

Image: Child receiving pill via Shutterstock

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