02:20 AM

Families on Medicaid make more incorrect assumptions about antibiotics

Parents of children insured by Medicaid, the U.S. health program for the poor, are more likely to incorrectly assume antibiotics can treat colds and flu and seek these drugs when kids don't actually need them, a study suggests.

Parents surveyed in Massachusetts reported using antibiotics for their kids on average less than once a year, the study found. But when asked if antibiotics should be used for colds of flu, only 44 percent of the Medicaid parents correctly said "no," compared with 78 percent of parents with private coverage.

Beyond spawning superbugs that are harder to treat, greater use of antibiotics may also be linked to an increased risk of a common form of juvenile arthritis, another study in Pediatrics suggests.

Researchers in the U.K. compared children ages 1 to 15 who were newly diagnosed with so-called juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) to another group of similar kids without the condition.

Any exposure to antibiotics was associated with a doubled risk of developing JIA, and the risk was tripled for children who had more than five previous courses of antibiotics, the study found.

While the study can't show that antibiotics cause JIA, it joins a growing body of research exploring the connection between antibiotic use and the development of chronic disease - research that offers an added incentive for overuse to be curbed, Dr. Jennifer Goldman, an infectious disease researcher at Children's Mercy Hospitals & Clinics in Kansas City, wrote in an editorial.

Read more via Reuters