Antibiotics and Children: Myth vs. Fact

July 28, 2022

antibiotics in childrenParents want the best for their children, especially when it comes to their health. It’s important to understand when and if antibiotics are safe for children to take when facing common illnesses like ear and sinus infections.

What Are Antibiotics?

First prescribed in the 1940s, antibiotics have saved millions of lives by stopping the growth and reproduction of bacteria that cause disease. Unlike viruses – which only grow and reproduce after they have entered other living cells – bacteria themselves are living, one-celled organisms. Fittingly, the word antibiotic means “against life.”

Types of Antibiotics


Just as there are many different kinds of bacteria, there are a variety of antibiotics to fight against them. Antibiotics typically prescribed for children include:

  • Penicillins (amoxicillin and penicillin G) – prescribed for ear infections and bacterial sinus infections.

  • Beta-lactamase inhibitors (amoxicillin-clavulanic acid or Augmentin) – prescribed for children with a history of recurring or more complicated ear infections, complicated sinus infections and some types of pneumonia.

  • Cephalosporins (includes cefdinir and ceftibuten) – prescribed for bacterial sinus infections as well as complicated ear infections, pneumonia and for children with a history of recurring ear infections.

  • Macrolides (azithromycin and erythromycin) – prescribed for mild forms of pneumonia and whooping cough.

  • Sulfa drugs (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) – prescribed for urinary tract infections and resistant staph infections.

Are Antibiotics Safe for Children?


Yes, antibiotics are safe for children and are often the ideal remedy for many illnesses like those listed above. However, doctors are generally very cautious about prescribing antibiotics during the first three years of life because this time is so important in a child's development.

Frequent or inappropriate use of antibiotics can cause bacteria to change and build up resistance to antibiotics over time, which can require higher doses for effective treatment. Antibiotics can also kill the good bacteria in the body, which can cause diarrhea. Other risks for children include allergic reactions and nausea.

Pediatrics at Lane


Lane is pleased to offer pediatric services for newborns, toddlers, children and teens. Our team of experts provides well-baby exams, developmental screenings, sports physicals, immunizations and more. We value the trust you place in us and look forward to getting to know your family and answering any questions you may have about antibiotics or other health topics.

Learn More About Lane Pediatrics