CDC: Antibiotics are Leading Cause of ED Visits for Adverse Drug Events in Children

Recently, in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, authors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that antibiotics are the leading cause of emergency department (ED) visits for adverse drug events in children. Antibiotics save lives and are critical tools for treating infections, like those that can lead to sepsis, but they can lead to adverse drug events. The CDC study estimates that 70,000 children 19 years or younger visited the ED for antibiotic-related adverse drug events each year from 2011–2015. Many of these ED visits (41%) were made by children 2 years or younger. Most visits (86%) involved allergic reactions, such as rash, pruritus (itching), and angioedema (severe swelling beneath the skin).

Three Things to Know

  • Each year, nearly 1 in 400 children aged 2 years or younger visit the ED because of reactions to antibiotics.
  • Healthcare providers can protect their patients by carefully weighing the risks and benefits of prescribing an antibiotic and by only prescribing antibiotics when they are necessary.
  • Improving the way healthcare providers prescribe antibiotics—and the way patients use antibiotics—helps keep patients healthy now, helps fight antibiotic resistance, and ensures that these life-saving drugs will work when they’re needed most.

Learn more.

About Kim Rodgers

Kim Rodgers serves as a Communications Specialist at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices, as well as partner tools and resources, in infectious disease and preparedness through NACCHO's communications channels, storytelling, and outreach to various audiences.

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