Half of Australian children prescribed antibiotics in first year

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Melbourne, July 28 (IANS) Half of Australian children have been prescribed antibiotics in their first year, researchers found in a study published on Friday.

The study, compiled by the Murdoch Childrens’ Research Institute (MCRI), found that Australian children are taking more antibiotics than ever despite the rising threat of drug-resistant superbugs, reports Xinhua news agency.

David Burgner, lead author of the study, said that the findings contradicted a concerted effort within the medical industry to reduce antibiotic intake.

“We found that by the age of one year, half of all infants had been prescribed at least one course of antibiotics and one in eight infants had been prescribed three or more courses of antibiotics,” Burgner told Xinhua on Friday.

The prescription rate for infants was 150 per cent higher than that in Britain, Burgner said, and 500 per cent higher than in Switzerland.

Compared to 2007, the prescription rate for antibiotics for infants in Australia has risen 230 per cent.

Though researchers could not determine what percentage of the prescriptions were justified, they did find that at least 20 per cent of the prescriptions were for viral infections which antibiotics have no effect on.

Antibiotics were also often prescribed for ear infections, which they also generally ineffective in treating.

Burgner said that providing better education for parents and medical practitioners was key in reducing the number of antibiotics taken by infants.

–IANS

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