Youngsters with pneumonia and sepsis are dying because humans have become so resistant to antibiotics, new research reveals.
Researchers at the University of Sydney discovered many antibiotics were less than 50 percent effective at treating infections such as pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis in babies and children.
The team noted thousands of children die unnecessarily from antibiotic resistance each year.
Researchers found one antibiotic, ceftriaxone, helps just one in three cases of sepsis in meningitis in newborn babies but is widely prescribed in Australia.
Many failing antibiotics are still recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), they said, prompting the team to call for an “urgent” guidelines update.
WHO last set out parameters in 2013, but the global health body has declared antimicrobial resistance (AMR) one of the top 10 public health threats to humanity.
The experts argued AMR harms children more than adults because new antibiotics are less likely to be trialed on and made available to youngsters.
South East Asia and the Pacific are the most seriously affected regions, including neighboring Indonesia and the Philippines.
Across the world, approximately 570,000 newborns die from sepsis each year – many are due to antibiotics failing to treat resistant bacteria.
Lead author Dr. Phoebe Williams, from the university’s School of Public Health, said the study should be a wake-up call for the world, adding there must be more funding to investigate antibiotic treatments for kids.
She said: “We are not immune to this problem – the burden of anti-microbial resistance is on our doorstep.
“Antibiotic resistance is rising more rapidly than we realize.
“We urgently need new solutions to stop invasive multidrug-resistant infections and the needless deaths of thousands of children each year.
“Antibiotic clinical focuses on adults and too often children and newborns are left out. That means we have very limited options and data for new treatments.”
Despite its inefficacy, ceftriaxone is widely used in Australia to treat pneumonia and urinary tract infections in children.
Another antibiotic, gentamicin, was found likely to help treat fewer than half of all childhood sepsis and meningitis cases.
Gentamicin is commonly prescribed with aminopenicillins, a drug also found to be not very effective in combating bloodstream infections in babies and kids.
At present, Dr. Williams is looking into an old antibiotic, Fosfomycin, as a temporary lifeline to treat multi-drug resistant urinary tract infections in Australia’s children.
The review of how antibiotics work on kids with common infections, published in Lancet South East Asia, analyzed 6,648 bacteria cases from 11 countries and 86 publications.
Senior author Professor Paul Turner, University of Oxford, said: “This study reveals important problems regarding the availability of effective antibiotics to treat serious infections in children.
“It also highlights the ongoing need for high-quality laboratory data to monitor the AMR situation, which will facilitate timely changes to be made to treatment guidelines.”
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Produced in association with SWNS Talker