Children with asthma are far more likely to be given antibiotics than those without, new research reveals. Research presented by Asthma UK shows that children with asthma are 1.6 times more likely to receive anti-biotic prescriptions than children without the condition.
Dr. Andy Whittamore, GP and Asthma UK’s clinical lead said: ‘It can be difficult, even for healthcare professionals, to tell the difference between bacterial and viral infection.’ This can lead to asthma patients being prescribed unnecessary antibiotics.
According to Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, ‘[c]urrent guidelines for healthcare professionals on how to treat asthma do not recommend automatically prescribing antibiotics after an asthma attack. But studies show that more than half of people who have asthma attacks are prescribed antibiotics anyway’
There are roughly 5 million people in the UK who suffer from asthma, with rates of the condition on the rise because of an increase in airborne pollens due to climate changes, urban pollutants and the overuse of antibiotics.
A 2014 review suggested that 2 out of 3 asthma related deaths for that year were preventable through adequate care, which had not been provided. For Kay Boycott, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, ‘it is hugely disappointing that the latest Asthma UK care survey shows little has changed since that damning report.’
The most recent research was conducted by Erasmus University in Rotterdam. From an analysis of 1.5 million children in the UK, of which 150,000 had asthma, it was discovered that 374 children per 1000 with asthma were prescribed antibiotics, while for those without asthma the figure was much lower at 250.
This may have worrying implications. Concerns are already being raised about the rise of superbugs that are becoming increasingly resilient to antibiotics. The excessive, and often unnecessary, use of antibiotics is a factor in their development.