Health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta say inappropriate antibiotic use contributes to antibiotic resistance, which leads to increased healthcare costs, treatment failures and deaths from infections.
The report, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, finds antibiotic prescribing in doctors' offices for acute respiratory infections decreased 24 percent during 1993-2008, mostly due to decreased prescribing for patients with pharyngitis, a 26 percent decrease, and patients with non-specific upper respiratory infections or the common cold, a 19 percent decrease.
However, despite this decrease, in 2007-2008, acute respiratory infections still accounted for 58 percent of office visits where an antibiotic was prescribed for a person age 14 and younger, but this proportion was smaller than the 69 percent of office visits calculated for 1993-1994, the report says.
"While this decrease is encouraging, antibiotics are still prescribed too frequently for children age 14 and younger," the report says. "Interventions such as patient and healthcare provider education, offered by CDC's Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work campaign -- www.cdc.gov/getsmart -- are important steps towards further reducing rates of antibiotic use among children in the United States."