June 22, 2024

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Antibiotics for Common Childhood Infections Approaching Ineffectiveness

Global Health Crisis: Antibiotics for Treating Common Childhood Infections Approaching Ineffectiveness

Global Health Crisis: Antibiotics for Treating Common Childhood Infections Approaching Ineffectiveness

The effectiveness of antibiotics in treating childhood infections is shockingly low on a global scale, with a recent study revealing that the efficacy of essential medications is often below 50%. Urgent calls for updated treatment guidelines and increased research investment underscore the serious situation of antibiotic resistance, which is particularly severe in the Southeast Asia and Pacific regions, posing a significant threat to the global health of children.

Medical guidance urgently needs an update. In many parts of the world, antibiotics commonly used to control epidemic infections in infants and young children have lost their effectiveness due to high levels of antibiotic resistance.

A study led by the University of Sydney has found that multiple antibiotics recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for treating childhood infections, such as pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis, are less than 50% effective.

The research results indicate that global antibiotic usage guidelines are outdated and need to be revised. The most severely affected regions are Southeast Asia and the Pacific, including neighboring countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, where thousands of children die unnecessarily each year due to antibiotic resistance.

Global Health Crisis: Antibiotics for Treating Common Childhood Infections Approaching Ineffectiveness

The World Health Organization has declared antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as one of the top ten global public health threats facing humanity. It is estimated that there are three million cases of neonatal sepsis worldwide each year, with up to 570,000 deaths, many of which occur due to a lack of effective antibiotics to treat resistant bacteria.

Increasing evidence suggests that common bacteria causing childhood sepsis and meningitis often exhibit resistance to prescribed antibiotics. This study emphasizes the urgent need to update global antibiotic guidelines to reflect the rapidly changing rates of AMR. The latest WHO guidelines were published in 2013.

Antibiotics Losing Ground, Medical Community Calls for Updated Guidelines

The study found that the antibiotic ceftriaxone may only be effective in one-third of cases of neonatal sepsis or meningitis. Ceftriaxone is widely used in Australia to treat various infections in children, such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections.

Another antibiotic, gentamicin, was found to be effective in less than half of childhood sepsis and meningitis cases. Gentamicin is often prescribed in combination with aminoglycosides, and the research shows that aminoglycosides also have low efficacy in preventing and treating infant blood infections.

Dr. Phoebe Williams, the lead author of the study and an infectious disease expert at the University of Sydney School of Public Health and the Sydney Institute of Infectious Diseases, also practices as a clinician in Australia. Dr. Williams stated that cases of children with infections resistant to multiple drugs are increasing worldwide. Children’s resistance issues are more severe than in adults because new antibiotics are less likely to be tested on children and less likely to be available for them.

Dr. Williams emphasized that this study should sound the alarm worldwide, including in Australia: “We are not immune to this issue—the burden of antimicrobial resistance is at our doorstep. The rise of antibiotic resistance is faster than we realize. We urgently need new solutions to prevent invasive multidrug-resistant infections and the needless deaths of thousands of children every year.”

Research Needs

This study analyzed 6,648 bacterial isolates from 11 countries and 86 publications, reviewing the sensitivity of common bacteria causing childhood infections to antibiotics.

Dr. Williams said that the best way to address antibiotic resistance in childhood infections is to prioritize funding for research into novel antibiotic treatment methods for children and newborns. “Antibiotic clinical trials mainly target adults, and children and newborns are often excluded. This means we have limited choices and data for new therapies.”

Dr. Williams is currently researching an ancient antibiotic, colistin, as a temporary lifeline for treating multidrug-resistant urinary tract infections in Australian children. She is also collaborating with the World Health Organization’s Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee to ensure that children have prompt access to antibiotics for treating multidrug-resistant infections, reducing child deaths caused by AMR.

“This study highlights a significant issue in providing effective antibiotic treatment for severe childhood infections,” said Professor Paul Turner, a senior author of the research report, director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit at Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and a professor of pediatric microbiology at the University of Oxford. “It also underscores the current need for high-quality laboratory data to monitor AMR trends, which will help in timely guideline adjustments.”

Global Health Crisis: Antibiotics for Treating Common Childhood Infections Approaching Ineffectiveness

(source:internet, reference only)

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