Drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infections Increasing in US Children


A recent study has found that the rate of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections is increasing in children in the United States.

With their still-developing immune systems, children are already susceptible to a plethora of infections, and indeed, any parent will tell you that it seems his/her child is always “coming down” with something new. Now, recent research published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society is showing that children are also being faced with the growing burden of drug-resistant infections, and the rate at which they are experiencing these infections is increasing in the United States. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one such bacteria that is contributing to these resistant infections.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), P. aeruginosa infections can manifest as blood, pneumonia, ear, and skin infections, among others. Hospitalized individuals as well as those with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible and “an estimated 51,000 healthcare-associated P. aeruginosa infections occur in the United States each year.” In hospitals, the potentially deadly bacteria “can be spread on the hands of healthcare workers or by equipment that gets contaminated and is not properly cleaned.” The CDC reports that these resistant infections attribute to 400 deaths each year.

Although these infections are typically treated with antibiotics, the bacteria are becoming harder to fight as resistance to these drugs continues to grow. In fact, the researchers on the JPIDS study found that samples of P. aeruginosa taken from pediatric patients across the country over the course of a decade showed “increasing rates of antibiotic resistance,” according to the press release.

In the study, researchers analyzed data on P. aeruginosa isolate samples taken from pediatric patients—between the ages of 1 and 17 years—from clinical microbiology laboratories that serve about 300 US hospitals. The researchers found that, “the proportion of P. aeruginosa isolates resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics rose from 15.4% in 1999 to 26.0% in 2012.” Perhaps more startling, the researchers found that resistance to carbapenems, antibiotics that are typically used as a last resort, “increased from 9.4% in 1999 to 20.0% in 2012.”

Of note, the researchers also found that, “drug resistance was more common in pediatric patients in intensive care units, among those 13-17 years, and in the Midwest (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and the Dakotas).”

According to the press release, this study is one of only a handful of studies that, “have assessed trends of resistant P. aeruginosa infection specifically in children, despite rising rates of antibiotic resistance nationally overall.” The researchers hope that their study highlights, “the need for better tracking of antibiotic-resistant infections and for effective strategies to prevent these infections in children, in addition to antibiotic stewardship programs to address inappropriate antibiotic prescribing.”

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