Pediatricians warn about antibiotics in meat

Asking farmers to use fewer antibiotics


Pediatricians have a health alert that may affect what you eat for breakfast. They want farmers to use fewer antibiotics.

A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics said the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in animals is mainly to blame for antibiotic resistance. It leads to people getting sick or even dying.

An estimated 2 million Americans get sick with infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year and about 23,000 people die from these infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This study has to do with the meat many of us eat every day. The study says the antibiotic-resistant bacterium that regularly shows up in meat is a significant health threat.

Emily Forrest babysits a young girl and says she's not surprised by the study.
In 2012, many antibiotics in the United States weren't sold to humans. But 80 percent of those anti-microbial agents were used on animals, according to the report. Some 60 percent of those drugs are the same ones that fight infections in humans.

Overexposure to antibiotics creates bacteria that can tolerate those drugs which means doctors won't be able to use them to help treat people. This is a public health threat, especially to children.

"There are many people who can die from infections from these resistant organisms," said Dr. Vandana Bhide, from the Mayo Clinic.

Farmers just don't give antibiotics to help sick animals. Many give them to animals in low doses to help animals grow."Many of the kids who are sick do have bacteria-resistant bacteria and they're harder to treat because, of course, their immune system is not as strong as adults," said Bhide.

She said the use of antibiotics in animals also cuts down on the supply of antibiotics for humans.

"It prevents us from having antibiotics available when we really need them," said Bhide.

One way people get these infections is from eating contaminated food. To prevent the problem, people can look for stores and restaurants that advertise that they get their meat from animals raised without the regular use of antibiotics.

"Petition the Food and Drug Administration and the USDA to really encourage farmers to avoid antibiotics in our food so that we have it when we really need it," Bhide said. 
Forrest has her own thoughts about eating meat. "I know for the family that I work for, they only buy organic meats for that reason."

Experts said if more parents demand to get their meat from animals raised without the regular use of antibiotics, perhaps farmers will stop using them.

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