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Antibiotics Being Prescribed Less for Respiratory Infections
Date:8/18/2009

Decline seen as sign of progress against drug-resistant bacteria,,,,

TUESDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Prescribing antibiotics to treat respiratory tract infections has dropped significantly in recent years, a new study has found.

That's mainly the result of fewer young children being seen for ear infections, according to the researchers. But despite a decline overall, prescriptions for broad-spectrum antibiotics, such as azithromycin (Zithromax), and anti-microbial agents known as quinolones have increased, they reported. Such drugs are used to fight more serious infections, such as MRSA and other resistant bacteria.

"There is good news about declining antibiotic use, since inappropriate use of antibiotics can result in bacteria that are resistant to these antibiotics," said Dr. Marie R. Griffin, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a co-author of the study. "However, overuse of powerful antibiotics remains a problem."

"Antibiotics should only be used for bacterial infections, and heavy-duty antibiotics should be saved for serious infections," Griffin said.

Over the last 12 years, she said, use of antibiotics in children has declined 36 percent. "This is mainly due to educational efforts to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics for viral infections and to a new vaccine -- pneumococcal conjugate vaccine for infants, which has reduced ear infections in children," she said.

For the study, which is published in the Aug. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers looked at the trends in prescriptions for antibiotics from 1995 to 2006, using data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

They found that medical visits for ear infections among children younger than 5 declined 17 percent in that time, and antibiotic prescription rates dropped
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