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Overuse of antibiotics in animal feed is making it harder for doctors to treat life-threatening infections in young children, a report from U.S. pediatricians warns.
The report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the widespread practice of giving antibiotics to healthy livestock to promote growth and prevent disease is making the drugs ineffective when they are needed to treat infections in people.
“The antibiotics that are fed to the animals lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the animal,” study co-author Dr. Theoklis Zaoutis of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said. “These bacteria can then be spread to other animals, the environment and to humans.”
More than two million Americans become ill with antibiotic-resistant infections each year, and 23,000 die, Zaoutis and co-author Dr. Jerome Paulson report in the journal Pediatrics. Infants and children are affected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the food supply, direct contact with animals and exposure in the environment, the researchers report.
Pediatricians and parents can help combat antibiotic resistance by avoiding use of antibiotics to treat colds or other viral illnesses.
Consumers may also help discourage the use of antibiotics in livestock feed by choosing to buy organic products or foods labeled as “raised without antibiotics,” said Urvashi Rangan, executive director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center.
Even purchasing organic doesn’t guarantee that there will not be resistant bacteria present, noted Timothy Landers, an antibiotics researcher at Ohio State University. “What we have lacked is a coordinated, integrated approach to antibiotic resistance including experts on human health, food production animal health and the environment,” said Landers.
Read full, original post: Antibiotics in animal feed may endanger kids, doctors warn