A study from University Hospitals shows the danger of superbug infections among children

Posted at 10:31 AM, Mar 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-08 08:02:20-05

An alarming new study coming out from University Hospitals highlights the dangers of antibiotic resistance in children.

Doctors are seeing more and more kids with "superbug" infections, in which normal bacteria, specifically, in this case, known as Enterobacteriaceae bacteria, becomes resistant to multiple drugs.

“We're seeing an increase in bacteria that are resistant to almost all antibiotics,” said Dr. Sharon Meropol, who works in the Department of Pediatrics at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children. She is the lead author on the study.

Dr. Meropol found that the increase has led to a 700 percent rise in antibiotic-resistant infections in kids here in America since 2007.

“So when you have an infection with these bacteria, it's harder and harder to treat.”

Adding to the concerns— these kinds of infections used to just be confined to hospitals. Now, they are spreading out into the community.

“These used to be infections that you really only saw in grownups and kids who had been in the hospital for a really long time,” Dr. Meropol noted. “Who were in the intensive care units, who had invasive procedures done or really suppressed immune systems.”

According to Dr. Meropol, reversing this trend is something everyone should work to accomplish.

“Most importantly, we can not use antibiotics where we know they're unlikely to be helpful,” she told News 5. “If we have a cold, if our child has a cold, we shouldn't be using antibiotics for that.”

 But this is a global issue, and over-prescribing here in the United States is just part of the problem. About 1.5 percent of infections in America are antibiotic-resistant, compared to more than a quarter in other parts of the world.

“Asia and the Pacific, a lot of these countries have antibiotics available over-the-counter,” said Dr. Meropol. “We live in a connected world and these organisms are spread not only within this country but also between countries.”

“We can't just say that's somebody else's problem. We're really all in this together. If we use an antibiotic, for example, it increases our own risk of having a future antibiotic-resistant infection and also increases the risk at the societal level.”

Dr. Meropol says antibiotics used in healthy farm animals are also adding to the problem, by putting extra antibiotic into the environment.

“Over 85% of the antibiotics used in the United States are used for growth promotion, for example, in farm animals.”