Taking antibiotics daily to prevent future urinary tract infection after a first childhood infection may not be such a good idea, for not only does it not help, but it may also end up increasing the risk that bacteria causing the infection might develop resistance to the drugs.
The finding is based on the first large study of children diagnosed with UTI in a primary care pediatric setting by researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
As a part of their study the researchers reviewed the electronic health records of 74,974 children with at least two clinic visits in The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's pediatric healthcare network between July 2001 and May 2006.
They found that 611 children had a first urinary tract infection and 83 had a recurrent UTI. Children between ages three and five, Caucasians, and those with severe vesicoureteral reflux had the highest risk of recurrent UTI.
Receiving a daily dose of preventive antibiotics was not associated with a lower risk of recurrent UTI.
"The majority of children with first UTI were female, Caucasian and two through six years old. Most did not have an imaging study performed and did not receive daily antibiotics to prevent infections," said Patrick Conway, M.D. M.Sc., primary investigator of the study.
"We found that daily antibiotic treatment was not associated with a decreased risk of recurrent UTIs, but was associated with an increased risk of resistant infections," he added.
Ron Keren, M.D., M.P.H., a general pediatrician at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and senior author on this study said that though more definitive studies were needed, doctors needed to start discussing the risk of daily antibiotic use with kids' parents before prescribing the medicines.
"More definitive studies, such as clinical trials, are needed to look at this issue. But given these findings, it is appropriate for pediatricians to discuss with families the risks and unclear benefits of daily preventive antibiotic treatment after a child has had a first UTI," he said.
The study is published in the July 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.