For every 100 hospitalised pediatric patients across India who may need a common antibiotic called ampicillin to fight infections, chances are it won’t help 95 of them. In 75% of hospitalised children, especially those younger than one month old, another common antibiotic, gentamycin, may not work.
The reason, according a recent study by pediatricians of Apollo Hospital in Navi Mumbai, is that antibiotic resistance has risen to alarming levels among India’s youngest.
The resistance occurs when a bacterium becomes so powerful that antibiotics fail to check its growth. The main cause for resistance is overuse of antibiotics. The study’s authors Dr Dhanya Dharmapalan and Dr Vijay Yewale presented their findings at a conference in Madrid last month, suggesting setting up an expert group at corporation or district levels to track antibiotic use.
“Resistance levels are so high among neonates (less than a month old) and pediatric patients that the government should at least track sale and use of some high-end antibiotics like colistin and vancomycin,” said Dr Dharmapalan.
The study, published in the March edition of the Journal of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, looked at 50,545 reports of blood culture conducted across India’s neonatal and pediatric ICUs over 15 years. “Almost a third of these samples had microbes, with staphylococcus aureus and klebsiella pneumoniae being the most common,” said Dr Yewale, former president of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics. The review found staphylococcus aureus was resistant to most first line antibiotics like erythromycin (53% of the cases).
“Antibiotic resistance is the cause when an E coli infection or a urinary tract infection doesn’t heal soon enough with oral drugs in children,” said Dr Dharmapalan. Such kids need higher dose of antibiotics.
The study is perhaps the first largest pooled data on resistance in bloodstream infections in Indian children.