White U.S. kids more likely to get unneeded antibiotics
For years, scientists have warned that unnecessary use of antibiotics is making germs stronger and more resistant to medications.
"It is encouraging that just 2.6 percent of children treated in pediatric emergency departments across the nation received antibiotics for viral acute respiratory tract infections, since antibiotics are ineffective in treating viral infections," said study leader Dr. Monika Goyal.
"However, it is troubling to see such persistent racial and ethnic differences in how medications are prescribed," said Goyal. She is the director of research in the division of emergency medicine at Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C.
Upper respiratory infections, which include the common cold, are one of the most common reasons a child visits the emergency department. Research has previously suggested that up to 75 percent of kids with viral respiratory infections are prescribed unnecessary antibiotics.
For the new study, researchers examined medical records from 2013 for more than 39,000 cases of respiratory viral infection treated at seven U.S. pediatric emergency departments. Patients' average age was 3.
Over 4 percent of white patients received antibiotics, versus just under 2 percent of black patients and 3 percent of Hispanic patients, the study found. ■