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Overuse of Antibiotics on Farm Animals puts the Health of Young Children in Grave Danger

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asserts that excessive use of antibiotics on livestock poses a great risk to the health of young children. Ideally, a report released today in the Pediatrics concludes that these antibiotics stay for longer periods in these food-producing animals; thereby, putting young children in grave danger of acquiring multiple infections. Aside from reducing the ability of medicine to treat those infections, the excessive use of antibiotics on livestock has resulted in a greater risk of life-threatening infections among young children. Dr. Jerome A. Paulson, FAAP, lead author, and AAP’s immediate past chair of the executive committee of the Council of Environment Health, holds that antimicrobial resistance is among the most serious threats not only to the public health of the U.S. but also to the world as a whole. “Antimicrobial resistance threatens the doctors’ abilities to treat and suppress infectious diseases,” he adds.

Coincidentally, the report released by the AAP came on the same day the WHO (World Health Organization) issued a statement stating that there are misunderstandings worldwide concerning antibiotic resistance. In that statement, officials from the WHO said 64% of people surveyed in twelve countries insisted antibiotic resistance is a crucial issue. Nevertheless, 66% noted that people are not at risk of a drug-infection provided they take their antibiotics as prescribed. Another 44% asserted that antibiotics resistance only becomes a menace when you take the prescriptions regularly, but how serious is the threat posed by antibiotics resistance?

In a report released by Paulson to Healthline, over 2 million people in the United States alone ill with antimicrobial-resistant infection every year, and this results in over 23,000 deaths in the country annually. According to the FDASN (Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network), a system operated by the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the year 2013 saw over 19,000 infections among young children, who currently cover almost 15% of the U.S. population. Unfortunately, during that year, those infections led to 4,200 hospitalizations and 80 deaths. The most endangered group is children under the age of five years, says Paulson to Healthline.

Life-threatening infections are, nevertheless, highly uncommon in healthy children, adds Paulson. In most cases, you will notice such infections only affect children who suffer from other medical complications. As a result, parents are urged to maintain their children’s health on a consistent basis. Paulson, who is also a professor emeritus of pediatrics and of environmental and occupational at George Washington University’s School of Medicine, noted a particular farming technique as one of the key causes of antimicrobial resistance. Most farmers often add small doses of antimicrobial agents to the feed of healthy farm animals over prolonged periods. Ideally, these farmers desire to prevent diseases, increase food efficiency and promote growth among their livestock.

These non-therapeutic uses are what contribute resistance and lead to new health dangers, as well as render antibiotics ineffective when doctors use them to treat infections in humans. Because children can be exposed to numerous drug-resistant bacteria, they are often the most endangered group. Drug-resistant bacteria are highly difficult to treat or eliminate if they cause an infection through consuming the meat of farm animals given antibiotics or through contact with those animals. Similar to humans, food-producing animals should receive relevant antibiotics for bacterial infections. Failure to do so compromises the health of young children.