The number of children hospitalized for dangerous MRSA infections has exploded from two out of every 1,000 hospital admissions in 1999 to 21 out of 1,000 in 2008, according to a recent study published in this week's Pediatrics.
Almost 30,000 children were hospitalized with MRSA infections at the 25 hospitals studied during the 10-year period. Although it isn't clear whether MRSA caused their deaths or whether severity played a role, 374 of those infected died.
But in contrast to some other recent measures of MRSA rates, most of the children hospitalized had community acquired infections, pointing to more of an issue with antibiotic resistance than sub-par infection control. In particular, the study found a coinciding increase in use of clindamycin, an antibiotic that comes in easy-to-use pills and liquid, and smaller increases for two other antibiotics. Another drug effective against MRSA, vancomycin, is only available intravenously and its use decreased during the study.
The increasing use of clindamycin is concerning because in some regions MRSA is already becoming resistant to the drug, according to Dr. Jason Newland, the study's lead author and an infectious disease physician at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Doctors need to use the antibiotic judiciously, he said.