Issue Brief

The Threat of Multidrug-Resistant Infections to Children

Expert testimony, research, and commentary

Infectious diseases have a significant impact upon American children. Children contract infections more often than adults and are more likely to spread infections to playmates, schoolmates, siblings, parents, and grandparents. . . . With all our resources and expertise in prevention, as well as drug discovery and development, it is unconscionable not to have an effective therapy for each and every bacterial infection.”

— Testimony of John S. Bradley, M.D., Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics before the Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, U.S House of Representatives, June 9, 2010

“In 2009, the rate of skin infections among children that required hospitalization climbed to 9.4 cases per 10,000 children, up from about 4.5 cases per 10,000 in the year 2000. Overall, about 71,900 children spent time in the hospital in 2009 because of severe skin infections.”

— Tara Parker-Pope, “More Children Hospitalized with Skin Infections,” New York Times' Well blog, August 11, 2011

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that late-onset MRSA infection in U.S. neonatal ICUs [intensive care units] increased 300 percent from 1995 to 2004.”

— A.M. Milstone et al., “The past, present, and future of healthcare associated infection prevention in pediatrics: multidrug-resistant organisms,” Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 31 Suppl 1 (2010):S18–S21

“Infection remains second only to malignancy as cause of death in pediatric oncology patients.. . . Fifty percent or more of children with hematologic malignancies [cancers of the blood] will have a documented infection at some point during their therapy.”

— L.C. Bailey et al., “Infections in pediatric patients with hematologic malignancies,” Seminars in Hematology 46, no. 3(2009):313–24

“Any one of us could become the victim of an antibiotic resistant infection. But our nation's most vulnerable citizens—our children—are at even greater risk. Children's vulnerability to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is just one clear example. . . . A four year retrospective study of patients in our NICU [neonatal ICU] found that MRSA infections increased the average length of stay by 40 days and were associated with more than $160,000 of extra costs per patient.”

— Peter Holbrook, M.D., interim president and CEO, chief medical officer, Children's National Medical Center, letter to Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA), July 18, 2011

“We don't want to find ourselves in a situation in which we have been able to save a child's life after a cancer diagnosis, only to lose [him or her] to an untreatable multi-drug resistant infection.”

— William Evans, Pharm.D., director and CEO, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, letter to Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA), August 8, 2011

“We need new antibiotics, and we need them now. . . Children with congenital diseases like cystic fibrosis are particularly susceptible to infection, and all too often, our treatment options are limited by drug resistance. For some of these children, the only effective drug is colistin, which is notorious for its harmful side effects, including nerve and kidney damage. This lack of options is unacceptable.”

— Mark Kline, M.D., chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital, letter to Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA), November 9, 2011