doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-3137) attempt to answer that question in their study of antibiotic use rates in Massachusetts from two health insurers. The authors looked at the period from 2000 to 2009 and calculated population-based antibiotic dispensing rates for three age groups (3 to < 24 months, 24 to < 48 months, and 48 to < 72 months.) The results are quite interesting and reflect a decline that plateaued early to mid-decade. Why this occurred and what we need to know to keep antibiotic usage rates from creeping back up form the focus of the Discussion Section, one that is well worth reading.
And while we are on the subject of antibiotic usage trends, what about other outpatient prescription drugs and their utilization? Chai et al. (doi:10.1542/peds.2011-2879) tackle this question using large prescription databases for children from 0 to 17 years from 2002 to 2010. How frequently we use prescription medication for everything from antibiotics to allergy to pain medication is included in this comprehensive study. I’ll give you a small preview by sharing that in 2010 amoxicillin was used most frequently in infants and children through age 11, but methylphenidate topped the list for teens age 12 to 17. Similar to the Greene et al. study for Massachusetts, in this study there is a decrease over time in antibiotic use, but to no surprise, there is a marked increase in ADHD medication use. If you want to know how your own prescribing trends compare to some national data, this is an article well worth your attention.