Although they are not effective in treating this type of cough, researchers in Italy said many children are prescribed antibiotics anyway. Antibiotics are also overprescribed to children in the United States, other experts have said. The findings were presented Monday at the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) annual meeting in Atlanta.
“In our experience, antibiotics are often prescribed by the general practitioner to treat cough in children, many times to pacify parents,” study lead author Dr. Francesco de Blasio, of the Clinic Center Private Hospital in Naples, Italy, said in an ACCP news release. “However, antibiotics show very little effectiveness at treating cough due to your average head cold.”
“As parents, it is difficult to watch our children suffering from a terrible cough, but turning to antibiotics is not always the answer,” added Dr. Darcy Marciniuk, ACCP president-elect, in the release. “Depending on the underlying cause of the cough, a health care professional can recommend the best treatment options for a child, which, in some cases, may be no treatment.”
The study involved 305 children who were treated in their pediatrician’s office for a bad cough due to the common cold. Of these kids, 89 were given antibiotics, and 38 received both antibiotics and either an anti-cough medication that affects the central nervous system (codeine, cloperastine) or a “peripheral” medication called levodropropizine.
“Using antibiotics as a treatment for cough without suspected infection is unnecessary and can be harmful,” de Blasio said. “Repeated use of antibiotics, especially when they are ineffective, can lead to adverse allergic reactions or a resistance to the medications.”
SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, Oct. 22, 2012 [Link]