• Article
  • December 6, 2016

CDC Study: Antibiotic Reactions Bringing Kids to the Emergency Department

Antibiotic reactions are the leading cause of emergency department visits for adverse drug events among children and adolescents aged 19 and under, according to a new CDC study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study provides new estimates on how many Americans—both children and adults—visit EDs every year because of unintended harm from medicines they take. The CDC tracked ED visits from 58 hospitals across the United States in 2013 and 2014 and found that about one in 250 Americans seeks emergency care each year due to an adverse drug event, with 27 percent of those visits requiring hospitalization.

The numbers on pediatric ED visits

While the drugs implicated in these ED visits varied for adults—from blood thinners and antibiotics to diabetes drugs and opioid analgesics—antibiotics were the main culprit for pediatric patients:

  • For children up to 5 years old, antibiotics were responsible for ED visits in 56 percent of cases
  • For children aged 6 to 19 years old, antibiotics were implicated in 32 percent of cases, followed next by antipsychotics at 4.5 percent

The CDC study finds that allergic reactions are the most common adverse events from antibiotics and suggests the best way to prevent these reactions is to avoid prescribing antibiotics unnecessarily.

Read the complete study at The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Learn more about antibiotic resistance and CDC's antibiotic stewardship efforts.