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EDs Treated 70,000 Children for Antibiotic Adverse Events from 2011-15

Over a four-year period, antibiotics sent thousands of American children and adolescents to the ED for allergic reactions and other adverse effects.

In a recent analysis, researchers used data from a nationally representative sample of hospitals to compare nationwide estimates for outpatient antibiotic prescriptions and ED visits attributed to the use of antibiotics in a cohort of patients 19 years of age and younger. Allergic reactions, including rash, pruritus, and angioedema, accounted for 86% of ED visits among these patients.

The authors targeted amoxicillin as the most likely candidate to send children 9 years of age and younger to the ED. For patients 10-19 years of age, investigators concluded that sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim was the likeliest culprit.

Overall, children 2 years of age and younger were at the greatest risk for emergency care for an antibiotic reaction. More alarming is that at least one-third of outpatient pediatric antibiotic prescriptions have been determined unnecessary.

The authors suggested providing more information to prescribers about adverse drug effects, especially among pediatric patients.

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