Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.
The Conversation logo

GPs in the UK carry out over 300m patient consultations every year and at least a quarter of these deal with children. Almost two-thirds of such appointments are for coughs, sore throats, or earaches – illnesses which young children commonly get.

Doctors and nurses group these types of illnesses as “acute respiratory tract infections”. They are considered to be “self-limiting”, meaning that antibiotics have little or no benefit and that the illness will go away in time. Yet, in at least 30% of these consultations, antibiotics are prescribed. That’s an estimated 13m unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions. This is not only wasteful but may also have unintended consequences for the child’s health.

Indeed, in our new study of over 250,000 children in the UK, we found that preschool children who had taken two or more antibiotic courses for acute respiratory tract infections in the preceding year had around a 30% greater chance of not responding to subsequent treatment (including the need for hospital referral and admission) compared to children who hadn’t taken any antibiotics. Our study specifically excluded children with long-term health conditions that would make them more prone to infections.

Read the full article on The Conversation website, written by Oliver van HeckeNIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences

Oxford is a subscribing member of The ConversationFind out how you can write for The Conversation.

Similar stories

Peter Horby receives prestigious award for outstanding service to public health

The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) has awarded its prestigious Alwyn Smith Prize to Professor Sir Peter Horby (Nuffield Department of Medicine) for 2020/2021 in recognition of his outstanding service to public health as a global leader in epidemic science.

Six new Fellowships announced as part of Oxford-Bristol Myers Squibb Fellowships Programme

The Oxford - Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) Fellowships Programme continued to demonstrate significant progress over the last year, despite the challenges associated with the global pandemic, including restricted lab access and work from home guidance. Today, we are pleased to announce six new Oxford-BMS Fellowships for 2021.

Researchers set out steps to address mental health effects of the pandemic on young people

Researchers have outlined 14 steps that schools, mental health services and policymakers can take to help children and young people whose mental health has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anti-cancer drug derived from fungus shows promise in clinical trials

A new industry-academic partnership between the University of Oxford and biopharmaceutical company NuCana as found that chemotherapy drug NUC-7738, derived from a Himalayan fungus, has 40 times greater potency for killing cancer cells than its parent compound.

Professor Trish Greenhalgh Highly Commended in the O²RB Excellence in Impact Awards 2021

Congratulations to Professor Trish Greenhalgh (Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences) who has been Highly Commended in the O²RB Excellence in Impact Awards 2021.

No benefit of convalescent plasma for critically ill COVID-19 patients

A large study of over 2000 COVID-19 patients has found that giving critically ill patients blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients did not significantly reduce deaths, or the need for intensive care support such as being put on a ventilator machine.