TUESDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Black children are less likely than other children to be given antibiotics and less likely to be given the most powerful antibiotics to treat acute respiratory tract infections, new research suggests.
Does this represent a previously unrecognized bias against black children? Probably not, said the researchers and other experts. Instead, it's more likely that non-black children are getting more antibiotics than they should be.
"We hypothesize that this discrepancy reflects over-prescribing, both for all antibiotics and for the relative proportion of broad-spectrum antibiotics, to non-black patients, rather than under-prescribing to black patients," wrote the researchers led by Dr. Jeffrey Gerber, of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who added that more study of this pattern should be conducted.
Dr. Allison Bartlett, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at LaRabida Children's Hospital in Chicago, agreed. "The fact that black kids are given fewer antibiotics and fewer broad-spectrum antibiotics may come across as a bad thing to the casual reader, but perhaps it's not an issue of under-treating black kids, but over-treating non-black kids," she said.
Another expert who was not involved with the study, Dr. Roya Samuels, a pediatrician at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., said that, at first glance, "this comes across as quite a controversial topic. But, I don't think we're dealing with a predilection to not prescribing to black children. Rather, there is still non-judicious use of antibiotics in the pediatric population as a whole, and non-judicious use tends to occur more in the non-black population."
Results of the current study were released online March 18 and will appear in the April print issue of Pediatrics.
Gerber and colleagues undertook the study because racial dispariti
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