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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : Is it safe for a one-month-old baby to be treated with antibiotics?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Henry H. Bernstein, D.O., is a senior lecturer in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. In addition, he is chief of General Academic Pediatrics at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth and professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School. He is the former associate chief of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital Boston.

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November 15, 2013
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Yes, it is safe for a one-month-old baby to be treated with antibiotics. In fact, even babies who are one day old and very small, premature babies are treated safely with antibiotics every day in hospital nurseries.

But as with any medicine given to anyone at any age, there is always a risk of side effects. So health professionals take the following steps to avoid as many side effects as possible.

  • Antibiotics are given only when necessary. Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. They do not treat infections caused by viruses. Doctors also recommend antibiotics for children to treat possible bacterial infections, until the results of special lab tests are complete. Infections can quickly become serious in young children. So this is commonly done for babies younger than 3 months of age who have fever or other signs of illness.
  • Antibiotics are chosen with the age of the child in mind. Some medicine is not recommended for use in children younger than a certain age. This is because the side effects are expected to be more common in younger children.
  • Antibiotics are dosed for the size of the child. Most adults do fine with a standard dose of a medicine (for example, one tablet three times a day). Body weight is less important in adults. But health professionals will carefully adjust the dose of medicine for children based upon their weight. That is why many antibiotics (and other types of medicine) commonly used for babies and young children are available in liquid form. They can be easily measured and taken by mouth.

 

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