Antibiotic-Resistant ‘Superbug’ Infections On The Rise Due To Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Drug-resistant infections are on the rise in the United States, and according to a new report, they are hitting children the hardest. This finding is especially troubling because children have immature immune systems that can't fight infections as well as adults. 

A new study has found increasing rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in samples from pediatric patients. The research focused on rates of an infection called P. aeruginosa, a strain of bacteria that can cause sometimes serious infections, usually in the ear, or generalized skin rashes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The report revealed that the amount of P. aeruginosa which was resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics rose from 15.4 percent in 1999 to 26 percent in 2012.

baby Infants and children are especially vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant infections. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

"Highly drug-resistant P. aeruginosa infections leave health care providers with limited — or sometimes no — antibiotic choices available, and these antibiotics are less safe and more toxic in children," said study author Sumanth Gandra in a recent statement.

What's more, the study also found that the amount of bacterial strains resistant to carbapenems, a class of antibiotics considered one of the treatments of last resort for highly resistant infections, increased from 9.4 percent in 1999 to 20 percent in 2012.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria has evolved ways to resist antibiotic effectiveness. Although it is a natural occurence, drug overuse and misuse has accelerated the process to the point where we are no longer able to create new, effective drugs at the same rate as bacteria are developing resistance. As a result, many infections have become virtually untreatable. Unfortunately, due to their still-developing immune systems, children are even more susceptible to these bacterial infections.

These findings are based on information from around 300 hospitals throughout the U.S., with samples collected from patients between the ages of one and 17. The distribution of drug resistance was not equal throughout the U.S., and seemed to be more concentrated in pediatric patients in intensive care units, among those 13 to 17, and in the Midwest (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and the Dakotas). Still, the new findings suggest the growing importance of both tracking the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections and finding new ways to address this growing threat.

Source: Logan LK, Gandra S, Mandal S, et al. Multidrug- and Carbapenem-Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa in Children, United States, 1999–2012. J ournal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society . 2016

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