"We know that the more we use antibiotics, the more of the bacteria become antibiotic-resistant," says Sharon Meropol, MD, PhD, Department of Pediatrics at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. "This makes these bacteria really hard to treat, especially in children because there are fewer antibiotics available proven safe in children."

Hospitals have seen a seven-fold increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or so-called "super bugs," from 2007 to 2015, resulting in 20 percent longer hospital stays for children.

Dr. Meropol has studied bacteria data from 48 children's hospitals through the Pediatric Health Information System and has published her findings in the Feb 23 edition of Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society, the first study to look at admissions to children's hospitals due to the antibiotic-resistant bug Enterobacteriaceae.

The pipeline of new antibiotics is drying up, according to Dr. Meropol, and she warns we need to watch the overuse of our current antibiotics. She says 80 percent of antibiotics are used to keep farm animals healthy, which contributes to antibiotic-resistant bugs. Also she says doctors are over-prescribing antibiotics for viruses, with at least quarter of children's antibiotic prescriptions given for infections that are viral and won't respond to antibiotics.

"We should be more and more increasingly careful about how we use antibiotics and only use them when we really feel confident we're treating a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics," says Dr. Meropol.

Dr. Meropol says in addition to longer hospital stays, these super bugs are associated with an increased risk of death.

Researchers analyzed data throughout the U.S. in this retrospective study, focusing on approximately 94,000 patients under the age of 18 who were diagnosed with Enterobacteriaceae-associated infections between 2007 and 2015.

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Dr. Meropol bio: http://www.uhhospitals.org/find-a-doctor/meropol-sharon-17976