The American Academy of Pediatrics says kids’ cold and allergy medicine is no longer as effective as it once was, and that the number of prescriptions for those treatments has gone down by more than half.
The academy’s annual report says more than 4.6 million children were prescribed medicine in 2017.
It said the percentage of children with at least one prescription rose to just under 30 percent in 2019 from just under 23 percent in 2017, and the percentage rose again to 31 percent in 2020.
Doctors now prescribe fewer medicines to kids and they prescribe fewer doses than they did a decade ago.
The number of kids with prescriptions fell in both 2020 and 2019, but the percentage fell even faster.
The report said the rise in the number and severity of childhood illnesses has also contributed to the decline.
“Children are less likely to have a life-threatening illness, fewer children are hospitalized for respiratory illnesses, and fewer kids die from infectious diseases,” the report said.
The organization has been warning about the shortage of medical supplies since 2015.
In the past few years, the U.S. has been seeing a sharp rise in cases of children in the United States suffering from the same colds and other respiratory conditions as their parents, a finding that many experts have attributed to increased use of vaccines and the use of the so-called cold snap in the spring and summer of 2019.
The association says that the shortage has led to an uptick in prescription drug use for children and adults and that many kids who don’t get a diagnosis are left with severe illnesses and even death.
The AP’s Ellen Huber reports.
(Published Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2019) A new study says that children’s health and wellness has not improved as quickly as the academy has been expecting.
In fact, the number, severity and costs of childhood ailments have actually gone down as the nation has gotten older, the association said in a report that will be released Thursday.
The American College of Physicians and American Academy on Aging released its report after a three-year study that followed nearly 300,000 kids across the country over a decade.
The association said that it was especially surprised to see the number fall in children and teens ages 6 to 11, which was the most affected age group.
That age group saw a drop in the use and prescription of medications, which the association says is a trend that has persisted into the new century.
“The number of illnesses in children has declined over time, but we still have much to do in the years ahead to ensure that the medicines are available to our children, that they are affordable, and we have the tools to make it as safe as possible for them,” said Dr. Deborah Weisberg, the chief executive of the association.
The AAP also said the number fell in children ages 3 to 7 and 5 to 12, although they also saw declines in older children and teenagers.
Children with chronic illnesses, such as asthma, were less likely than kids without chronic illnesses to get a prescription, which means that the amount of medicine that they need is less, the AAP said.
Weisberg said that because the use rates of certain medicines are dropping, that can have an effect on the price.
For children, the cost of medicines like steroids and antibiotics has increased as well.
She said that means they are paying more for medicine and that they have more of their costs covered.
In some ways, the decline in prescriptions has helped drive down the cost for kids’ medical care.
The cost of prescription drugs for kids was more than $2,000 per person, the most in the nation, the report says.
A third of the increase in kids receiving a prescription for asthma was attributed to children’s asthma, the AP said.
Weisburg said the use rate of asthma medications for kids is down and that that has had an impact on the cost to families.
She also noted that kids’ asthma is often treated at home and is not taken to the doctor for regular tests.
There was a significant decline in the percentage for kids with diabetes and other metabolic conditions, as well as the number with other chronic illnesses and allergies, the study said.
The study found that children and adolescents with asthma, which can have life-long health risks, have experienced higher rates of asthma-related hospitalizations, emergency room visits and emergency room stays than their peers without asthma.
While the number rose, the rate for kids without asthma rose by nearly a quarter, from 4.1 per 100,000 to 3.4 per 100.000.
About 9 million kids were on the list of children who had at least some symptoms of asthma, up from just over 2 million in 2016, the Associated Press reported.
Doctors prescribe medicines for a variety of conditions, including asthma, allergies and other ailments.
The list includes a wide range of drugs, from painkillers to antibiotics, to treat pain, sleep and allergies.