Practice managers are being urged to assess their medicines management as a study claims doctors should cut down on the amount of antibiotics they prescribe to children.
Scientists are warning the volume of prescriptions is creating high levels of resistance to antibiotics among the UK population.
David Mant and colleagues at the University of Oxford found children receive the most antibiotics outside of hospitals and prescriptions are rising again after seeing a significant drop.
Writing in the online edition of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), they analysed a 1999 paper which found 55% of children aged up to five receive an average of 2.2 prescriptions from their GP each year for an antibiotic such as amoxicillin.
And although there has been a drop of around 40% since then, unpublished data suggests that antibiotic prescribing is increasing, they said.
They studied antibiotic prescriptions for acute respiratory tract infection in 119 children in Oxfordshire and the build-up of resistance.
Seventy-one were given amoxicillin while 48 were not given any antibiotics.
The study revealed that, among children not given the drugs, there was no rise in the proportion developing resistance.
But in children prescribed the drug, the number carrying resistant bacteria more than doubled at a follow-up at two weeks.
This fell back close to the initial level after three months, but the effect may be sufficient to sustain a high level of antibiotic resistance in the population.
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