In pediatric medicine, antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed medications, with more than 30 million prescriptions written each year. A recent study analyzed antibiotic prescribing patterns in outpatient visits in the United States between 2006 and 2008. Antibiotics were prescribed in 21 percent of visits. Respiratory conditions accounted for most of the prescriptions (72 percent).

Prescriptions for broad-spectrum antibiotics, those that target a broad range of bacteria, were prescribed in 63 percent of those cases, but they were prescribed for infections for which antibiotics were not indicated. That means they were inappropriately prescribed for conditions for which antibiotics don’t work, conditions like bronchitis, viral pneumonia, and influenza.

Though overall rates for antibiotic prescriptions in outpatient pediatric care have declined, it is obvious from this report that antibiotics are still being overprescribed. Certainly, antibiotics play an important role in helping to stop harmful, and even deadly, infections, but when they are prescribed for conditions for which they are not helpful, they only serve to increase antibiotic resistance, a considerable health threat to modern medicine.

Not to mention, inappropriate overuse of antibiotics can contribute to gut imbalance that can have health effects that extend throughout a lifetime. Remember that digestive health is the foundation upon which total-body health is built.