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Stories of Antibiotic Use and Resistance
Minnesota Resident and Mother
My 5-year old daughter has contracted numerous illnesses that were treated with antibiotics over the years, most prevalent have been ear infections and Strep – normal, run-of-the-mill early childhood infections.
The challenge seems to come from an uncertainty and ambiguity about how much antibiotic is safe with regards to antimicrobial resistance. I have always trusted my pediatricians, but when I’ve mentioned the frequency of my daughter’s antibiotic use to friends and family, they seemed concerned and suggested that I may want to try and avoid antibiotics. Occasionally I have found myself questioning the necessity of antibiotics during a clinic visit with our pediatrician, and often times I find that the decision as to whether or not use the antibiotics has largely fallen to my husband and me. When we question the issue further, we have been told that “it’s probably okay” to give her antibiotics – a response that I don’t find very exact or comforting. Maybe my cases have always been very cut-and-dry, and when I ask deeper questions, the doctor has explained that the type of antibiotic being prescribed isn't terribly problematic (amoxicillin) or strong, so I have usually been convinced that it's safe to give her an antibiotic for an ear infection, for example.
So far, I’ve had no direct experiences, but I am concerned about how resistance could impact my daughter’s health as she becomes an adult.
By and large, as a family with two working parents, antibiotics have made my life easier. Rather than having to take more time off to care for a sick child, antibiotics enable us to be able to return to our usual routine with child care more quickly.
I worry that the frequent exposure to antibiotics in early childhood – often a choice of convenience at this stage in my life - could lead to antibiotic resistance later in life.
I’d love to see more research on the correlation between early childhood exposure to antibiotics and antibiotic resistance. From that, I hope for clear clinical guidelines so that my pediatrician can give me honest guidance on what is best for my child’s health, without feeling pressured to make my work-life-balance easier.