A type of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection has increased 700 percent in American children since 2007, a new investigation reveals.
These infections are caused by Enterobacteriaceae bacteria — normal bacteria that can become resistant to multiple drugs. Once confined to hospitals, the tough-to-treat infections are spreading into the community at large, say researchers who evaluated eight years of data.
These infections are associated with longer hospital stays and probably greater risk of death, the researchers said.
“Antibiotic resistance increasingly threatens our ability to treat our children’s infections,” said study author Dr. Sharon Meropol.
“Efforts to control this trend are urgently needed from all of us, such as using antibiotics only when necessary, and eliminating agricultural use of antibiotics in healthy animals,” added Meropol. She’s a pediatrician with University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland.
To assess current trends, the study team pored through data on roughly 94,000 children under 18 who were treated at one of 48 hospitals nationwide for an Enterobacter infection between 2007 and 2015.
By 2015, researchers found that 1.5 percent of these infections were antibiotic-resistant, up from 0.2 percent in 2007. This represented a more than 700 percent increase over eight years, the study authors said.
Children with the drug-resistant infections had hospital stays that were 20 percent longer than patients with infections that responded to antibiotics, the researchers found.
Most of the resistant infections had developed before the patients went to the hospital for treatment, highlighting increasing community vulnerability.
The findings were published in the Feb. 23 issue of the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.
“While the march of antibiotic resistance seems inexorable, informed and rigorous efforts to reverse this trend have been successful for other types of organisms, and are urgently needed within this context,” Meropol said in a journal news release.
There’s more on antibiotics and resistance at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.