Antibiotic use among children declined in past decade

Meanwhile, prescriptions for some drugs, including ADHD medications and contraceptives, increased.

By — Posted June 29, 2012

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Efforts by health organizations to slow the spread of antibiotic resistance by reducing overuse of the drugs seem to be working, a new study says.

Although systemic antibiotics are the most frequently prescribed medication among people 17 and younger, prescriptions for the drugs decreased 14% in that age group between 2002 and 2010. The findings were published online June 18 in Pediatrics.

Prescriptions for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, however, are rising among youths, up 46% during the same period. The increase comes as more children are being diagnosed with the condition.

About 5 million U.S. youths 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, which is up from about 4.4 million in 2003, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health professionals said it is unclear what is driving the increase. “Our objective was to better understand pediatric drug utilization and provide insight into potential therapeutic needs for future pediatric drug development,” said study author Judy Staffa, PhD, RPh, director of the Division of Epidemiology at the Food and Drug Administration.

Identifying the most widely prescribed medications can help focus research efforts on drugs that could have a large impact on the pediatric population, the study authors wrote.

Researchers examined national outpatient prescription drug use among individuals 17 and younger between 2002 and 2010. They assessed data from two large prescription claims databases on medications dispensed from outpatient retail pharmacies in the U.S. The data do not indicate whether patients who picked up their medication actually used them.

Researchers found that 263.6 million prescriptions were dispensed to youths in 2010 compared with 283.3 million in 2002. The decline was driven, in part, by a drop in antibiotic prescribing, the study said (link).

Also decreasing during the past decade were prescriptions dispensed for allergies (61%), cough/cold without expectorant (42%), pain (14%) and depression (5%).

The most significant increase occurred among dispensed contraceptive prescriptions, which rose 93% during the study period. The uptick does not necessarily mean more girls are using contraceptives, the study said. It could indicate that girls are staying on the medication for a longer time period.

Also rising were prescriptions dispensed for oral corticosteroids (22%), asthma (14%), dermal corticosteroids (10%), and seizure disorder (10%).

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn