by Susan Brink
Goats and Soda, April 25, 2018
What if a simple intervention could save tens of thousands of those children? Seems like a no-brainer — unless the method used to save them puts tens of thousands of others at risk in the future. That’s the dilemma presented by a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers enrolled 190,238 healthy children and, over a period of two years, gave half of them four doses of the antibiotic azithromycin and half of them a placebo. The results showed a 14 percent reduction in deaths among children age five and younger who received the antibiotic, though the researchers don’t know exactly why the antibiotics had this effect. But there’s a potential trade-off. Giving antibiotics to a community of healthy children could eventually result in a number of diseases becoming resistant to those drugs.