Mothers & Babies

Saturday 26 July 2014

Antibiotics 'likely to do more harm than good'

Caroline Crawford

Published 16/06/2014|02:30

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Parents have been warned against giving over-the-counter
medications to children when they are not needed
Parents have been warned against giving over-the-counter medications to children when they are not needed. Picture posed

ALMOST every Irish child under the age of one has had at least one course of antibiotics despite the fact that they often do more harm than good, writes Caroline Crawford.

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Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drugs in children here, representing one third of all prescriptions for young people.

Previous research shows that Ireland has a significantly higher prescription rate for children than most other EU countries – with over 80pc of children under the age of four undergoing courses of antibiotics.

Martin Cormican, professor of bacteriology at the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said antibiotics continued to be used "extensively" in children for conditions where they would be unlikely to help.

"There are still many people who expect that any child with a cough or a runny nose should have an antibiotic. They are almost always useless in that situation and not only are they useless but they are more likely to do harm than good," he said.

And the he warned that children were at risk of developing long-term health problems as a result, including asthma.

"A lot of the antibiotics that are being taken do no good and do real harm, because they kill much of the good bacteria in children's gut and there is some concern that there may be other effects associated with killing off the good bacteria that we don't fully understand."

Irish Independent

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