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Antibiotic Misconceptions Still Common Among Parents

Those with Medicaid insurance tend to know less about the drugs, researchers find

MONDAY, July 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Many American parents still have misconceptions about when their children should receive antibiotics and what the medications do, a new study indicates. The findings were published online July 20 in Pediatrics.

The researchers surveyed 707 parents in Massachusetts about their beliefs regarding antibiotics. The parents all had a child under 6 years of age. About half had private commercial insurance. The other half had Medicaid.

The researchers found that on the whole, parents of children insured by Medicaid answered fewer questions about antibiotics correctly. Additionally, parents in the Medicaid group were younger. They also tended to have less education than those with private insurance. Almost 80 percent of parents with private insurance correctly answered that antibiotics are not needed for colds or the flu. Among Medicaid parents, 44 percent answered correctly. Similarly, 53 percent of parents with private insurance correctly answered that green nasal discharge doesn't mean a child needs antibiotics. That compared to 38 percent of parents with Medicaid.

Just over one-third of parents with Medicaid had heard of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. More than half of parents with private commercial insurance had heard of these infections, the investigators found. Only 6 percent of parents with private commercial insurance would rather give their child an antibiotic that the child probably doesn't need instead of waiting to see whether the condition goes away on its own. Meanwhile, 21 percent of parents with Medicaid would do so, according to the report.

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