Parents may often perceive antibiotics as a cure-all for every illness. But although antibiotics are a powerful tool for fighting bacterial infections, there are downsides to using them. Stephanie C. Chiang, M.D., MPH, a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, understands the desire of parents to do all they can to help a sick child feel better faster. However, using antibiotics too often and in cases where they do not help, such as for viral illnesses, can lead to the emergence of dangerous bacteria resistant to current antibiotics.
“When parents come in with their sick child, they want them to get better as quickly as possible and may assume an antibiotic prescription is the answer,” Dr. Chiang says. “However, antibiotics should only be prescribed when truly necessary.”
The danger of drug-resistant bacteria is indeed real. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared antibiotic resistance as one of the world’s most urgent health problems.