Posts Tagged ‘antibiotics’

FDA bans antibacterial soaps and body washes

Monday, September 12th, 2016

HandwashingFrequent and thorough hand washing is still the best way to ward off germs and to prevent the spread of infections. There is no need to buy antibacterial soaps; regular bar or liquid soap will do the job just fine. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned antibacterial soap products containing certain chemicals.

What makes soap antibacterial?

Antibacterial soaps, also called antimicrobial or antiseptic soaps, contain different ingredients than plain soap. Antibacterial soaps contain one or more of 19 specific active ingredients with the most common ingredients being triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps). These products will have ‘antibacterial’ on the label.

Why the ban?

The FDA asked manufacturers to research and provide evidence that antibacterial soap ingredients, including triclosan and triclocarban, were safe for daily use over a long period of time. The manufacturers failed to prove their safety. Animal studies on triclosan show that this ingredient alters the way some hormones work in the body and raises concerns on its effect on humans. There is also concern that this ingredient contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. There is not enough research to know how triclocarban affects humans.

The FDA’s new rule applies to all consumer antibacterial soaps and body washes that are used with water. Manufacturers have one year to comply with the FDA’s new rule.

The ban does not include hand sanitizers, hand wipes or antibacterial soaps used in health care settings. The FDA says “Health care antiseptics are being evaluated separately from consumer antiseptics because they have different proposed use settings and target populations, and the risks for infection in the different settings varies.” More scientific research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of certain over the counter hand sanitizers.

Is it possible to stop preterm labor?

Friday, February 26th, 2016

pregnant womanThis is a question we received recently through the March of Dimes website. Preterm labor is labor that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. If you have preterm labor, your health care provider may recommend some treatments that may help stop your contractions and prevent health problems in you and your baby.

There are three kinds of medicines your provider may give you if you’re having preterm labor:

Antenatal corticosteroids (also called ACS). These speed up your baby’s lung development. They also help reduce your baby’s chances of having certain health problems after birth, such as:

  • respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), a condition that affects a baby’s breathing
  • intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), bleeding in the brain, and
  • necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a condition that affects a baby’s intestines.

Antibiotics. These kill infections caused by bacteria. You may need antibiotics to help prevent infections in you and your baby if you have Group B strep infection or if you have preterm premature rupture of membranes (also called PPROM). PPROM is when the sac around your baby breaks before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Tocolytics. These slow or stop labor contractions. Tocolytics may delay labor, often for just a few days. There are many different types of tocolytics and not all of them are appropriate for everyone. If you have a health condition, like a heart problem or severe preeclampsia, some tocolytics may not be safe for you.

These treatments are not a guarantee to stop preterm labor. But if you’re having preterm labor, they may help you stay pregnant longer. Staying pregnant just a few days longer can be beneficial for your baby.

Make sure you know the signs of preterm labor:

  • Contractions (your belly tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
  • Pelvic pressure—the feeling that your baby is pushing down
  • Low, dull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Belly cramps with or without diarrhea

Call your health care provider or go to the hospital right away if you think you’re having preterm labor, or if you have any of the warning signs. Call even if you have only one sign. Early treatment may help stop preterm labor or delay it long enough so that you can get treatment with ACS or to get to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Learn more about preterm labor on our website.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Group B strep infection

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Between 35-37 weeks of your pregnancy your prenatal care provider will test you for Group B strep. Group B streptococcus (also called Group B strep or GBS) is a common type of bacteria that can cause infection.

Many people carry Group B strep—in fact about 25% of pregnant women are carriers.  GBS bacteria naturally live in the intestines and the urinary and genital tracts. It is not known how GBS is transmitted in adults but you can’t get it from food, water, or things you touch. An adult can’t catch it from another person or from having sex, either.  Most people do not even know they are carriers since adults usually show no signs or symptoms related to GBS.

GBS, however, can be passed to your newborn during labor and delivery and it can make your baby very sick. Babies with a GBS infection may have one or more of these illnesses:

• Meningitis, an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain

• Pneumonia, a lung infection

• Sepsis, a blood infection

According to the CDC, in the US, group B strep is the leading cause of meningitis and sepsis in a newborn’s first week of life.

There are two kinds of GBS infections:

1. Early-onset GBS: Signs like fever, trouble breathing and drowsiness start during the first 7 days of life, usually on the first day. Early-onset GBS can cause pneumonia, sepsis or meningitis. About half of all GBS infections in newborns are early-onset.

2. Late-onset GBS: Signs like coughing or congestion, trouble eating, fever, drowsiness or seizures usually start when your baby is between 7 days and 3 months old. Late-onset GBS can cause sepsis or meningitis.

The good news is that early-onset GBS infection in newborns can be prevented by a simple test. During your third trimester, your provider will take a swab of the vagina and rectum. Results are available in a day or so. This test will need to be done in each pregnancy.

If you do have GBS, then your provider will give you an antibiotic through an IV (medicine given through a tube directly into your bloodstream) during labor and delivery. Usually this is penicillin (if you are allergic to penicillin, there are other options available). Any pregnant woman who had a baby with group B strep disease in the past, or who has had a bladder (urinary tract) infection during this pregnancy caused by group B strep should also receive antibiotics during labor.

Unfortunately late-onset GBS cannot be prevented with IV antibiotics. Late-onset GBS may be due to the mother passing the bacteria to her newborn, but it may also come from another source, which is often unknown.

Treatment for babies infected with either early-onset GBS or late-onset GBS is antibiotics through an IV.

Currently researchers are testing vaccines that will help to prevent GBS infections in both mothers and their babies.

If you have any questions about this topic or other pregnancy and newborn health issues, please email the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center at askus@marchofdimes.org.

When to use antibiotics

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

antibioticsThere was a time when parents who had a child with a sore throat or flu symptoms would ask their child’s health care provider for an antibiotic to help her feel better and get well and some providers would prescribe it.  But we’ve learned over the years that antibiotics, which are wonderful in some situations, are not the be all and end all and if given too often they may cause more harm than good.

First of all, antibiotics treat only bacterial infections. They do nothing to fight viruses which are the cause of most common colds, cough and flu. Secondly, if antibiotics are used when they are not needed or appropriate, bacteria over time can become resistant to them and then the bacterial infections they are designed to treat will no longer be curable by these medications. Thirdly, when an antibiotic is properly prescribed but the complete course of the drug is not given to the patient (your toddler feels better after six days so the complete ten day course is not followed), resistance can occur.

The American Academy of Pediatrics wants parents to remember three important points regarding antibiotics:
1 – Do not ask your pediatrician for a prescription for antibiotics to treat your child’s colds and flu. This does not mean that you should not take your child to the doctor to be examined. Your doc will be able to tell you if it’s a viral or bacterial infection and whether or not she needs an antibiotic.
2 – When your pediatrician does prescribe an antibiotic for an infection, make sure your child takes it exactly as the doc tells you. Be sure that she takes all of it.
3 – Do not give your child antibiotics from a previous illness or one that has been prescribed for another family member.

Having the use of antibiotics at the right time can be a real blessing, even a life saver. Using them at the wrong time will do no good and may cause problems in the future.

Ear infections and antibiotics

Friday, November 13th, 2009

19168604_thbBacteria have been around for more than 3 billion years and have plenty of practice in fighting antibiotics. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians issued treatment guidelines for middle ear infections that include, in certain cases, delaying prescriptions for antibiotics. There are concerns that the bacteria that cause middle ear infections, or Acute Otitis Media, are becoming resistant to antibiotics. In reality, 80 percent of children with Acute Otitis Media get better without antibiotics. Plus, each antibiotic given to a child can make future infections more difficult to treat. This creates drug-resistant bacteria, which a child can pass along to siblings and classmates. Also, antibiotics can cause diarrhea or vomiting, and up to 5 percent of children are allergic to them. If you have questions about middle ear infections, talk with your pediatrician. For more information on your child’s health, visit www.aap.org.

Testing for GBS

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Next week I’ll be in my 36th week and I start weekly prenatal appointments until the baby is born. The majority of my visits are pretty  routine and include your basic physical: blood pressure, weight, listening to the baby’s heart, and measuring my belly. This upcoming visit however my provider is going to test me for Group B streptococcus (GBS, also called Group B strep).

GBS infection is a common bacterial infection that is generally not serious in adults, but can be life-threatening to newborns. All pregnant women should be screened for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. The health care provider takes a swab of the vagina and rectum and sends the sample to a laboratory for a culture to test for the presence of GBS. Test results are usually available in 24 to 48 hours. Women who test positive for GBS are treated with antibiotics during labor.

Click here to read the March of Dimes fact sheet on Group B Strep Infection.

Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a special Web site devoted to Group B strep.

Antibiotics – when to use and when to avoid them

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

October 6-10 is the first Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. It is designed to help all of us learn when it is appropriate and safe to take an antibiotic or give one to our children.

Often parents see a child with a cold (sore throat, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, flu symptoms) and they want the doctor to prescribe an antibiotic, “the magic medicine,” to make it go away.  There usually is no such medicine, but sometimes a doctor will comply with the request to please the troubled parent.  The fact is that most colds and flu, even most cases of bronchitis, are caused by viruses and antibiotics do not work on viruses – they fight bacteria.

Taking an antibiotic for a virus can cause more harm than good.  It won’t cure the problem or make you feel better (time will likely do that), but it may encourage your body to begin building up a resistance to the antibiotic.  If resistance occurs and you end up requiring the antibiotic for a bacterial infection in the future, it may not work for you.  That’s why it is important to take antibiotics only when they are appropriate and not to ask for them “just to be safe.”  The CDC has some very good information about when to use antibiotics.

And while we’re on the subject of medications, remember not to give over-the-counter cough and cold products to infants and children younger than 2 years of age. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, these medications can have serious and life-threatening side effects.  Read more about over-the-counter medications.