Pediatricians: Antibiotics in Animal Feed Can Harm Children

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Everyone should check this out: the American Academy of Pediatrics just published a technical report on the “Nontherapeutic Use of Antimicrobial Agents in Animal Agriculture: Implications for Pediatrics.”

The authors – Dr. Jerome Paulson of George Washington University School of Medicine and Dr. Theo Zaoutis of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine – go into a lot of detail about the problem with antibiotic resistance in livestock. For example,

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been found to acquire tetracycline and methicillin resistance in livestock.28 MRSA has also been found to be prevalent in meat and poultry in the United States; samples from 5 US cities29 demonstrated S. aureus contamination in 77% of turkey samples, 42% of pork samples, 41% of chicken samples, and 37% of beef samples.

And these antibiotic resistant bacteria are leaving the farm and entering our communities through a variety of ways. For example,

…[R]esistance genes identical to those found in swine waste lagoons have been found in groundwater and soil microbes hundreds of meters downstream.

And our smallest ones are most at risk.

In 2013, a total of 19 056 infections, 4200 hospitalizations, and 80 deaths were reported to the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, a CDC surveillance system covering 15% of the US population.48 For most infections, incidence was highest among children younger than 5 years.

Most importantly, the conclusion is that we need to only use antibiotics when medically necessary.

Because of the link between antibiotic use in food-producing animals and the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans, antibiotic agents should be used in food-producing animals only to treat and control infectious diseases and not to promote growth or to prevent disease routinely.

Everyone should take the time to check out the report.

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