Misuse of antibiotics harms kids

Updated: Feb 05, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

More than a million children in China have been made deaf by misuse of the antibiotic streptomycin, say medical experts.

Yang Zhiyin of the Chinese Medical Association said that of the 1.8 million deaf children on the mainland, 60 per cent lost their hearing because of improper drug use, largely related to streptomycin, reports the China Daily .

Each year on the mainland about 200,000 people die from adverse drug events and 40 per cent of the deaths are related to the abuse of antibiotics, Yang told the Beijing-based Health News .

Many Chinese households habitually stock antibiotics at home and most people have taken antibiotics without a doctor`s guidance, said experts.

"Drug abuse, particularly the overuse of antibiotics, is widespread on the mainland, which is more than a purely medical problem. It`s a complicated social issue," said Huang Liuyu, of the Institute for Disease Prevention and Control of the People`s Liberation Army.

But he also added that doctors should be the first to be blamed for the situation.

"Some doctors tend to prescribe the most advanced antibiotics for patients who could be cured with commonly used ones. Some do this to achieve the quickest and best result, while others do it to receive kickbacks from drug companies," he said.

Yang said that each Chinese consumes an average of 138 grams of antibiotics a year, more than 10 times that taken by a person in the United States.