Senior author Dr. Michael Cabana, chief of general pediatrics at UCSF's Benioff Children's Hospital, says nearly 9 million U.S. children have asthma. Medications do help prevent asthma attacks and control symptoms.
However, national health guidelines do not currently recommend antibiotics for asthma, Cabana says.
Cabana and first author Dr. Ian Paul of the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine assessed how frequently antibiotics were prescribed to children age 18 and younger who were seen for asthma-specific complaints from 1998 to 2007.
The study, published online in the journal Pediatrics, found of the 5,198 outpatient visits studied, antibiotics were prescribed during nearly one in six visits, or about 1 million antibiotic prescriptions for U.S. children and teens with asthma annually.
The findings raise concerns about breeding drug resistance in children and underscore the need for pediatricians to take a more prudent approach when prescribing antibiotic medications, Cabana says.