40pc children become ‘silent victim’ of antibiotics: Study

Unawareness in ‘Superbugs’

40pc children become ‘silent victim’ of antibiotics: Study

Md. Rakibur Rahman, Chattogramdaily-bangladesh.com

Published: 16:21 19 January 2022   Updated: 11:30 20 January 2022

File Photo

File Photo

40 percent of newborns and children in Chattogram are exposed to three types of microorganisms – which are not being cured by any medicine including antibiotics. However, not just babies, at least one antibiotic is no longer working in the bodies of at least 70 percent of people in the district.

Researchers blame the “use of extra” and “incomplete courses” of antibiotics for this. They say “due to the use of extra and incomplete course of antibiotics, the antibiotic is no longer working in the case of various diseases”. 

Besides, the “use of antibiotics in poultry feed” is increasing. They also think “this is one of the reasons for the loss of antibiotic effectiveness in the human body”. Apart from this, strong antibiotic-resistant microorganisms are also spreading among the children from breastfeeding mothers.

A study was conducted by observing 1,000 patients in two hospitals in Chattogram for two consecutive years from 2018 to 2020. There were 430 males and 570 females. Males constitute 43% of the population and females 56%. About 50 percent of the population was children.

The study finds 40 percent of these children suffered from at least “three types of infections” with no antibiotics working. However, researchers fear that “the treatment of children will become almost impossible in the future if the effectiveness of antibiotics in the human body is reduced”.

‘Superbugs’ overuse of antibiotics

Researchers say that when an antibiotic is used in excess, the body develops “resistance” to that drug. Bacteria in the body become stronger than medicine. As a result, the drug does not want to work easily. 

Such germs with extra power are being termed as ‘superbugs’ in medical terms. As a result, the researchers are worried that if people are not aware now, at some point, they will not be able to find any medicine to fight the superbugs.

The study, conducted on five age groups with funding from the Research and Publication Department of the University of Chattogram (CU), was published in the international journal ‘Plus One’ on September 10.

The study was conducted on patients ranging from newborns to those over 60 years of age. There were 476 patients under the age of 0-18, 186 patients between the ages of 15 and 30, 109 patients between the ages of 30 and 45, 130 patients between the ages of 45 and 60 and 99 patients over the age of 60.

Dr. Adnan Mannan and Mahbub Hasan, teacher-researcher of the Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Chattogram, Professor Dr. Nahid Sultana, head of Department of Microbiology at Chattogram Maternal and Child Hospital and Dr. Wazir Ahmed, director of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). They were assisted by Afroza Akter Tanvi, a CU student. The whole study was further assisted by the Disease Biology and Molecular Epidemiology Research Group of Chattogram.

The study found that the prevalence of multi-drug resistant KPN Strain was very high among patients with pneumonia in the region. It has been found that three or more antibiotics have completely lost their effectiveness in the bodies of three out of four men who suffered from pneumonia before.

Earlier, in July of the same year, a joint study by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDRB) and the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the United States found that “antibiotics were not working in most cases of children with pneumonia in Bangladesh. As a result, in many cases, children are dying”.

Four ineffective antibiotics

The latest study shows the effectiveness of 20 antibiotics prescribed by doctors in Chattogram to patients suffering from Klebsiella pneumoniae. The antibiotics are – Amoxicillin, Gentamicin, Ciprofloxacin, Levofloxacin, Meropenem, Co-trimoxazole, Nitrofurantoin, Ceftriaxone, Azithromycin, Amoxiclav, Cefepime, Imipenem, Cefixime, Cefotaxim, Ceftazidime, Cefuroxim, Chloramphenicol and Ampicillin.

Studies have shown that these antibiotics – Cefuroxime, Cefixime, Cefotaxime and Ceftazidim are the few antibiotics that work in a patient’s body. Cefuroxime, Cefixime, Cefotaxime, Ceftazidime, Cefepime and Ceftriaxone were found to be ineffective at the rates of 78.96, 76.98, 74.69, 74.25, 68.24 and 65.75 percent respectively.

‘Superbugs’ in hospital 

The study also found that the vast majority of hospitalized patients were infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and germs from four locations. These are – hospital basins, bedsheets and walls, unclean food and drain water. 

‘Superbugs’ are mainly caused by the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in hospitals. The superbugs spread throughout the hospital through various means, including the unclean hands of the health workers and then go from one patient to another.  

Studies have also identified multiple genes that build up resistance in the body against antibiotics. In 60 percent of the cases, the presence of a gene called NDM-1 was found. Besides, the presence of another gene called SHV-11 was found to be 40 percent and the spread of the UGE gene was found to be 30 percent. As a result, researchers believe that regular monitoring of resistant bacteria and plasmids and regular clinical identification are needed to prevent public health disasters.