With growing awareness on development of antibiotic resistance, a new study confirms that many parents are confused when it comes to deciding whether antibiotics are needed to treat common childhood illnesses. More than 700 parents with a child under six years old completed surveys that tested their antibiotic-related knowledge and attitudes. Questions focused on the role of antibiotics in specific childhood conditions including colds, flu, ear infection, green nasal discharge, strep throat and bronchitis. Participants were also asked about the difference between viral and bacterial infections, whether they trusted their doctor’s treatment decisions and how concerned they were about the development of antibiotic resistance.
Overall, parents did well identifying illnesses in which antibiotics are almost always or sometimes indicated, such as in strep throat and ear infections, but they were not as good at identifying conditions that either do not or rarely require an antibiotic, such as green nasal discharge and bronchitis. About a fifth of the parents said they were very concerned about the development of antibiotic resistance in their child. Fewer were concerned about antibiotic resistance in the community.
"I think a big part of this is just that people don't realize for the most part that viruses don't respond to antibiotic treatment and that the vast majority of infections people, especially kids, have are viral," said Dr. Steven Wexberg, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic Children's. "Your body just fights it off. For the overwhelming majority of infections for children, a 'tincture of time' is what they need."