Starting Daycare, Needing Antibiotics

Few issues worry public-health officials more than the emergence of ever more pathogens resistant to antibiotics. Not surprisingly, epidemiologists have identified overuse of antibiotics as a cause of the problem. But physicians are especially likely to rely on antibiotics in what circumstances? Study after study has identified children who have contracted an illness while in daycare centers as a population significantly overrepresented among antibiotic recipients. Of course, because the daycare center has become an essential support for maternal employment, feminists are desperate for a de minimis interpretation of this issue. Even though it manifests the authors’ awareness of how politically sensitive their findings are, a study recently completed at Finland’s Turku University unmistakably indicates that putting young children into daycare centers can only compound the problem of antibiotic resistant microbes.   In data collected for 1,827 children 24 months old and younger, the Turku scholars look for answers to two questions of acute interest to public-health officials: 1) how much does taking young children out of the home and putting them in daycare centers drive up the incidence of the respiratory illness among these children? 2) how much does placing children in daycare centers increase use of antibiotics?   In addressing these questions, the researchers are aware that “daycare has been known to be a major risk factor for respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in children for over 30 years.” But they are also aware that “a considerable proportion of children in modern society attend daycare from the age of less than 2 years,” making it entirely predictable that “RTIs in this age group constitute an important health problem,” in part because of the elevated rates of antimicrobial medication use among such children “with subsequent impact on resistance patterns.”  The researchers limn a “rapid increase in respirator
Please subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.