Severe skin infections are on the rise among children, and some health experts think that the overuse of antibiotics may be to blame.
In 2009, about 71,900 children were hospitalized due to serious skin infections. That's about 9.5 cases for every 10,00 children. This may not seem like much, but compare those numbers to the 4.5 cases of serious skin infections per 10,000 children in 2000 and you can see why some health professionals are worried.
These numbers come from a new report published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine that attributes the increases to a rise in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA infections. According to the study, the more antibiotics kids take (for other infections) the more likely they are to harbor the MRSA superbug.
For the study, researchers looked at cases in which children tested positive for MRSA. More than half — 53 percent — of the 297 cases had been prescribed at least one antibiotic between 30 and 180 days before the diagnosis. Not surprisingly, the more antibiotics the children had been given, the more likely they were to be carrying the superbug.
So does this mean that you should run for cover the next time your health care provider prescribes antibiotics for your child? Not necessarily. But it does mean that you should have a serious talk with your child's doctor before you let her reach for that prescription pad.