About 70,000 emergency room visits each year by children are the result of side effects from antibiotics.
Researchers analyzed estimates of antibiotic prescriptions as well as data from a representative sample of hospitals for ER visits due to antibiotic use by children 19 and younger. About 86% of the visits were because of an allergic reaction, such as a rash, itching or angioedema, which is severe swelling beneath the skin. The study also showed that children 2 and younger had the highest risk of experiencing an adverse event – 41% of ER visits were in this age group. Results were published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.
In children 9 and younger, amoxicillin was the most common antibiotic that led to an adverse event. In children between the ages of 10 and 19, the drug was Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim).
Researchers noted that prior research has found that about one-third of pediatric antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary. They added that many more children likely experience side effects from antibiotics, since the study only included adverse events that resulted in a visit to the ER.