Prophylactic Antibiotic Administration Among Children Reduces Mortality In 3 African Nations, Study Shows

Nature: Giving at-risk children pre-emptive antibiotics reduces deaths
“To stem the rise in antibiotic resistance, researchers recommend that people only take the drugs after they are diagnosed with a bacterial infection. But a trial involving nearly 200,000 children in Niger, Tanzania, and Malawi went against that guidance in an attempt to save youngsters in regions where as many as one in 10 die before their fifth birthday…” (Maxmen, 4/25).

New York Times: Infant Deaths Fall Sharply in Africa With Routine Antibiotics
“Two doses a year of an antibiotic can sharply cut death rates among infants in poor countries, perhaps by as much as 25 percent among the very young, researchers reported on Wednesday. … As a result of the study, the World Health Organization is considering whether to recommend routinely giving antibiotics to newborns…” (McNeil, 4/25).

NPR: Giving Antibiotics To Healthy Kids In Poor Countries: Good Idea Or Bad Idea?
“…But there’s a potential trade-off. Giving antibiotics to a community of healthy children could eventually result in a number of diseases becoming resistant to those drugs. ‘We’re taught not to give antibiotics when kids aren’t sick, and here we’re doing just that,’ says Dr. Thomas Lietman, ophthalmologist at the University of California at San Francisco and senior author of the paper. ‘This study is outside the box — and we found it reduces childhood mortality’…” (Brink, 4/25).

Wall Street Journal: Prophylactic Antibiotic Use Could Reduce Childhood Death Rate
“…At the end of the test period, the death rate of the children who got the drug was 13.5 percent lower than those who didn’t get it, the researchers found. The effect was greatest in the youngest children: mortality was 24.9 percent lower in one- to five-month-olds who got the antibiotic than in those who didn’t. Almost all of the reductions were in Niger, the country in the study with the highest mortality rate. The other two countries that participated were Tanzania and Malawi…” (McKay, 4/25).

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