CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - According to a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, almost half of parents save leftover antibiotics prescribed to their children.
The study found that out of 496 parents, about 48.2% saved leftover prescriptions.
Dr. Lyn Nuse, the Senior Medical Director of Primary Care Pediatrics at Atrium Health, said these findings are alarming for several reasons. One of the problems is it means the patient is not completing the antibiotic.
“The infection needs your full course of antibiotics to clear it completely and if you stop too soon the infection could come back and it could come back stronger,” Dr. Nuse said.
We asked parents in Charlotte whether they stick to the instructions.
“I’m a big believer in following the 5 day course or 10 day course," Jeff Tonidandel said.
“When my kids are 7 days or whatever it goes in the trash,” Kylie Sane said. “I don’t reuse it, I don’t trust it.”
Of the parents in the study, 73% later took the antibiotics themselves or shared them with other children or adults.
“I’m currently using an ointment that was prescribed to my oldest daughter and I am using it on my youngest daughter so I guess it just depends,” Jill Vande Woude said.
“Could be the wrong dose, could be the wrong medication," Dr Nuse said. "Not all bacteria responds to the same antibiotics.”
When antibiotics are used on something they aren’t meant to treat, she said they could cause serious side effects.
“Potentially an allergic reaction, diarrhea, upset stomach,” she said.
16% of the parents in the study gave their children adult medications.
“I would never!” Sane said. “I guess you just don’t know how safe it is.”
Experts say self-prescribing is never a good idea.
“The conversation and openness back and forth between your physician and yourself is the most important thing you can do for your health,” Dr. Nuse said.
According to Dr. Nuse, another problem with sharing these prescriptions is that it could lead to a widespread issue with antibiotic resistance.