• Dr Amir Waly

Antibiotics for Kids

It begins with a fever. As a parent you notice your child not feeling well, or simply behaving out of character, and so you move to investigate the situation. During the process, you grab a thermometer and measure the temperature, only to find an alarming number, being anything above 37.5. The fever combined with maybe a sore throat persuades you to make an appointment with your GP, more often than not expecting a prescription for antibiotics.

This scenario is extremely common, whether at home, the GP practice or even the emergency department. The fever should certainly summon the attention of any medical practitioner, however, it does not necessarily warrant antibiotics. The classic argument would be if it's a viral infection, which is far more common than bacterial infection. In such a case, antibiotics will almost certainly harm the child, namely with adverse reactions such as diarrhoea. The viral infection will usually follow a very predictable course, and at the end of the day we've all been through it. The list of culprit viruses is a mile long, there are common viruses implicated, but often, from a medical point of view, regardless of the type, management simply involves giving medicine to manage the fever, and hydration. Never forget to maintain fluid intake, this point is very important.

Recent articles published in the Australian Journal of General Practice and the Medical Journal of Australia have highlighted the importance of the "Gut Microbiome". Basically, these are the bacteria, viruses, fungi and various other types of living organisms which naturally live in our gut and actually provide numerous benefits, for example Vitamin K is exclusively provided by guy bacteria, thats why new born babies are given a Vitamin K injection, as they don't have any gut bacteria! So, getting back to the point, when kids are given antibiotics, it causes a massive disturbance to the guy microbiome, and this has significant ramifications into the future. Personally, I was shocked by the adverse effects caused by giving kids antibiotics.

Having said this, please understand certain situations require antibiotics, and they maybe life saving. It is up to the medical practitioner to assess and determine a course of action. The point of this blog article is to raise awareness of both benefits and harms associated with antibiotic use in children, and to also lessen the pressure placed on GPs to issue antibiotics by parents.


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