Doctors aren’t writing prescriptions for certain antibiotics to treat children’s respiratory tract infections as much as they used to, so trumpets the Journal of the American Medical Association.

I thought, Hooray! They’ve been reading my report How To Survive In A World Without Antibiotics.

But actually, they are just prescribing something else instead! The researchers used national data to see if antibiotic use was still declining, a trend that began in the 1990s.

Well, there was an 18% drop in antibiotic prescriptions in people with respiratory tract infections. That includes a 36% drop in the antibiotic prescription rate for respiratory tract infections among U.S. kids younger than 5.

But this isn’t because doctors are more responsible. It’s because of fewer doctor visits! (patients don’t trust MDs and don’t want antibiotics).

Also, there was a drop in prescriptions of certain antibiotics, such as penicillin and amoxicillin, to treat children’s respiratory tract infections. But – here’s the killer — prescription rates shot up for other antibiotics! For instance, azithromycin’s prescription rate for respiratory tract infections among children younger than 5 rose NINEFOLD between 1995-1996 and 2005-2006!

Prescription rates for quinolones (another type of antibiotic) also rose for people aged 5 and older. And antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory tract infections weren’t down among people aged 50 and older.

So, doctors are NOT getting the message.

SOURCE: Grijalva, C. JAMA, Aug. 19, 2009; vol 302: pp 758-766.