Oral Antibiotics Are Found to Save More Infant Lives

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

While vaccines, mosquito nets and other health measures have saved millions of children younger than 5 in the last decade, death rates from pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis among babies in the first weeks of life have remained stubbornly high.

Now researchers have found that giving oral antibiotics to newborns in danger, a simpler protocol than the injectable antibiotics recommended by the World Health Organization, could save the lives of many of the 630,000 newborns who die each year.

As a result of three large studies published in The Lancet and Lancet Global Health last week, the W.H.O. will soon be revising its guidelines, Tarik Jasarevic, an organization spokesman said.

Current guidelines call for babies with symptoms of dangerous bacterial infections to receive injectable antibiotics for seven to 10 days, a protocol that normally requires hospitalization.

But for many parents in poor countries, that is impossible. Traveling to a distant hospital may cost too much, and parents may fear unfamiliar surroundings or be unable to afford to leave their farms, jobs and other children for long — so babies often die.

Source: The New York Times (link opens in a new window)

Health Care