October 18, 2005

Doctors’ children get fewer antibiotics: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Children of doctors and
pharmacists are significantly less likely to be given
antibiotics for common colds and viral respiratory infections
compared with children in the general population, Taiwanese
researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

Dr. Yiing-Jenq Chou of National Yang Ming University,
Taipei and colleagues note that antibiotic resistance might be
reduced if parents were better informed about the uselessness
of these agents in viral infections. Much of such prescribing
has been attributed to being a response to parental demands.

To see if health professionals might be aware of this
limitation and thus reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing
to their own children, the researchers examined data on more
than 53,000 visits to hospital outpatient departments or
physician clinics. The study involved around 21,000 children
with common colds, upper respiratory infections and acute

Comparison of children of physicians, pharmacists, nurses
and non-health personnel showed that those of physicians were
50 percent less likely than others to receive an antibiotic
prescription. Children of pharmacists were 69 percent less
likely to be prescribed these drugs. However, for nurses, the
likelihood was similar to that of the general population.

Children of parents in low-income groups were also
significantly more likely to receive antibiotics than those
with higher incomes.

The findings, say the researchers, "support our hypothesis
that better parental education does help to reduce the
frequency of injudicious antibiotic prescribing."

However, they also note that in Taiwan, doctors can
dispense drugs themselves or through on-site pharmacists. Such
physicians were more than twice as likely to prescribe
antibiotics as non-dispensing doctors.

To help rectify the situation, the researchers advocate
educational, regulatory and other efforts aimed at more
appropriate antibiotic prescribing.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, October 2005.