Advice from Canpol's experienced mothers.

Truths and myths about antibiotics

Your baby is ill, an you wonder whether to give him an antibiotic. You consider the pros and cons heard "in the sandbox" or on the telephone while talking with your loved ones. Your baby is small and you do not want to give him a strong drug. But sometimes failing to do so may lead to even more severe consequences. Therefore, before making a decision, consult a specialist. Talk about a particular situation concerning your child. My advice on antibiotics is just an introduction for considering this alternative. I hope that after reading this article you will find no ready answers, but the questions that you can ask your doctor.

Choosing a doctor

Choose a doctor who will get to know your baby during every appointment. When the condition of your child is risky, the doctor should take into account:
• child's individual characteristics: age, resistance
• antibiotics the child had received before (Were they effective? What was the baby's reaction?)

Examples of diseases in which antibiotic treatment is used:

• streptococcal pharyngitis
• bacterial sinusitis
• bacterial pneumonia
• acute bacterial otitis media
• acute bacterial otitis media
• purulent skin infection - topical treatment
• purulent conjunctivitis

Antibiotic - what is it?
Antibiotics are chemical compounds of natural origin or produced synthetically. Their action is based on destruction or inhibition of bacterial proliferation. If your doctor prescribes your baby an antibiotic, it will probably belong to one of the following groups: penicillins, cephalosporins, macrolides (the most commonly used in children).

How to administer an antibiotic?
When prescribing an antibiotic the doctor should tell you how to administer it.
1. Time is crucial. Intervals between doses should not be too short and should be regular, usually 8-12 hours. If you are late with administering the antibiotic check how much time elapsed from the proper administration time. If it is less than an hour you can give the drug to the baby. If it is more than one hour consult your doctor. Only he can decide what steps should be taken. He may even stop the treatment and start another one. Ask if the prescribed antibiotic should be given before, after or during eating.
2. Stick to the amounts recommended by your doctor. Use a dose measuring cup (plastic dispenser with a spoon or a scaled syringe) attached to the drug. Using other devices (ordinary teaspoon) you can not be sure whether the dose is adequate. Up to 4th month a baby gets an antibiotic by injection (parenterally). It requires hospitalization.
3. Do not dilute the drug. If the baby does not drink all the liquid, you can not be sure how much of the dose was taken.
4. Medications are best washed down with water. Certain substances may not be combined with selected antibiotics, for example: milk contains calcium, which results in abnormal absorption or juice, which contains vitamins supporting not only the body but also the bacteria responsible for a disease.
5. Give the medication for exactly as many days as your doctor recommends. Even if the baby soon seems better, you should finish the treatment. If you stop administering the drug, the bacteria can start proliferating again, thereby causing a relapse. It is important that appropriate drug concentration in the baby's blood was maintained for a specified number of days.
6. Consult your doctor if your child vomits after being given the antibiotic. If the baby vomits within one hour after administration of the antibiotic, your doctor will probably ask you to give it once again. If it has been about 3 hours, the drug had time to be absorbed. Do not decide on your own, discuss it with your pediatrician, because he will take all the circumstances into account.
7. Give vitamins, but ... after finishing the antibiotic treatment. Then the vitamins will support the body's regeneration process. Vitamins given in the course of therapy support not only the body, but also the bacteria that cause a disease.
8. Give probiotics, which help in rebuilding the natural bacterial flora. Usually they are administered about an hour after the antibiotic, because otherwise the good bacteria can be destroyed by the drug. Other alternatives include: infant probiotic formula, natural yogurts.
9. When your child is ill again, and you have some antibiotic from the previous treatment left in the medicine cabinet, do not use it. An antibiotic can only be prescribed by a doctor. Despite similar symptoms (as during the previous illness), you can not tell whether the same medicine will work. To determine what drug should be used the doctor may order tests: culture, antibiogram. If waiting for the results (3-7 days) is impossible, the doctor prescribes medication taking into account the medical record of the little patient, his previous illness, etc.
10. After antibiotic treatment, give your child time to recover. He will be weakened after taking a strong medicine. Within about 2-3 weeks after the illness, your doctor may recommend taking vitamins or herbal preparations to strengthen the body. If the infant was seriously ill, put some limit on the visits of the relatives. If your child goes to a kindergarten, do not send him there shortly after the illness, because he is not immune enough and can easily catch an infection from other children.
If the drug is administered later than recommended or the dose is lower than it should be, the antibiotic will not destroy the bacteria that cause the disease. Its effectiveness will be lower and the baby will not get better. Another result of improper administration of antibiotics can be: immunization to the drug. These points affect the absorption of the drug and treatment effectiveness. You can see now what the possible consequences of not following the rules of antibiotic administration are, so try to observe the specialist guidance.

Side effects of antibiotics: Apart from pathogenic bacteria an antibiotic also kills the beneficial bacteria (from the digestive tract). This may lead to:
• diarrhea
• avitaminosis
• reduced level of minerals such as calcium, zinc, magnesium
• immunodeficiency.
• allergy: abdominal pain, rash, blisters. Monitor your baby, as the symptoms may appear after the first dose of medication, although usually they appear after the second. Additionally, if you notice other alarming symptoms such as drowsiness, irritability and crying, consult your doctor. After examining the child he may decide to change the antibiotic.

Read the leaflet carefully. You will get information on the dosage (you will get it also from a doctor who may recommend a slightly different dosage) and find out what symptoms require medical consultation. During the appointment, ask your pediatrician how you can prevent or react to side effects so that to help your child to go smoothly through the antibiotic therapy. 


Mum of 3 year old Franek, 13 years of professional experience

dr Barbara Leszczyńska

- consulting

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