Well­ness Arti­cles

Chil­dren May Not Need Antibi­otics for Acute Infec­tive Con­junc­tivi­tis

The above head­line appeared in a June 24, 2005 arti­cle from the online Med­scape from WebMD. This arti­cle was based on the find­ings of a new study pub­lished in the June 22, 2006 British research jour­nal, The Lancet.

In this study 326 chil­dren with a diag­no­sis of con­junc­tivi­tis rang­ing from age 6 months to 12 years were ran­domly selected from med­ical prac­tices in the UK. These chil­dren were sep­a­rated into two groups. One group received eye drops of the antibi­otic chlo­ram­pheni­col, while the other group got placebo eye drops. Nei­ther the doc­tors nor the patients knew whether they were get­ting the placebo or the real antibiotic.

The chil­dren were re-​examined at day 7 and a fol­low up was done 6 weeks later. Eye swabs were col­lected for bac­te­r­ial and viral analy­sis. The results of the study on day seven showed that of the 155 chil­dren in the placebo group, 128 of them, or 83% were listed as cured. This com­pared to 140 being listed as cured of the 162 chil­dren, rep­re­sent­ing 86%, in the group that actu­ally got the antibi­otic chlo­ram­pheni­col. The dif­fer­ence noted is sta­tis­ti­cally insignif­i­cant, there­fore researchers noted no real dif­fer­ence between the two groups.

In the 6 week fol­low up researchers found that fur­ther con­junc­tivi­tis episodes occurred in seven chil­dren (4%) receiv­ing chlo­ram­pheni­col and in five chil­dren (3%) receiv­ing placebo. They also found that any addi­tional adverse events occurred at a sim­i­lar rate in both groups.

Lead author Peter W. Rose, from the Uni­ver­sity of Oxford, Eng­land com­mented, “We have shown that symp­toms resolve with­out antibi­otics in most chil­dren with acute infec­tive con­junc­tivi­tis. The health eco­nomic argu­ment against antibi­otic pre­scrip­tion for acute con­junc­tivi­tis is compelling.”

The con­clu­sion and rec­om­men­da­tions of the authors were, “Par­ents should be encour­aged to cleanse their children’s eyes if an antibi­otic is not pre­scribed. Par­ents should be encour­aged to treat chil­dren them­selves with­out med­ical con­sul­ta­tion, unless their child devel­ops unusual symp­toms or the symp­toms per­sist for more than a week.”

Ran­dom Article

USA Today reported on a study pub­lished in the Octo­ber 8, 2003 issue of the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion (JAMA), that

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