Antibiotic use in animal feed is leading to increased rates of life-threatening infections among children, especially those under five years old, says a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics published in the journal Pediatrics.
Researchers found that 19,056 infections, 4,200 hospitalizations and 80 deaths involving children were reported in 2013 to the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, part of the Centers for Disease Control.
“The incidence of laboratory-confirmed Salmonella infections per 100,000 children was 63.49 in children younger than 5 years of age, 19.33 in children 5 to 9 years of age and 11.26 in children 10 to 19 years of age,” states the report. “Salmonella results in 123,452 illnesses, 44,369 physician visits, 4,670 hospitalizations and 38 deaths annually among children younger than 5 years.”
Researchers said “infants and children are affected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the food supply, direct contact with animals and exposure in the environment,” Lisa Rapaport reports for Reuters.
“Pediatricians and parents can help combat antibiotic resistance by avoiding use of antibiotics to treat colds or other viral illnesses. Parents and other consumers may also help discourage the use of antibiotics in livestock feed by choosing to buy only organic products or foods labeled as ‘raised without antibiotics.’”
The Rural Blog is published by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.