EYE OINTMENT , 2015
Health November 30, 2015 5:20 pm Updated: December 1, 2015 12:29 am ‘Ineffective, outdated and unethical’ – the case against antibiotic eye drops for newborns By Allison Vuchnich Network Correspondent Global News WATCH ABOVE: In many provinces, newborns receive antibiotics eye drops, in Ontario midwives are asking the government to change the mandatory practice. A A + When Laura and Curtis Hardy’s son, Phoenix, was born, antibiotic drops were put in his eyes. “We were informed…that [it was] just going to happen,” said new mother Laura Hardy. “It doesn’t seem to make sense that it is a mandatory requirement.” The practice has been around since the late 1800s, when silver nitrate drops were used to greatly reduce the incidence of blindness in infants whose mothers had chlamydia or gonorrhea. More than 120 years later the practice still exists. Now, within an hour of a baby being born, antibiotic eye drops or ointment is put into its eyes. In Canada erythromycin is administered. The prophylaxis drops are a preventative treatment and is still mandatory in some provinces – Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Pediatricians and midwives want the practice to be changed. “The research shows this practice is ineffective, outdated and unethical,” said midwife Liza van de Hoef. READ MORE: Meant to save your life, now overuse of antibiotics may endanger it: study Now there are better ways to screen pregnant women for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and if the baby is infected there are more effective treatment options, and certain gonorrhea strains are now resistant to antibiotics – making the treatment ineffective and unnecessary – according to pediatricians and midwives. As well, gonorrhea can result in a serious eye infection, but is responsible for less than one per cent of infant eye infection, say researchers. “The risk of an individual baby suffering longterm consequences from an eye infection is extremely low, so again, mandatory eye prophylaxis cannot be justified based on our need to protect individual babies,” said Liz Darling, PhD and midwife researcher. In some provinces, like Ontario, health care providers who do not follow the law are subject to fines, and parents who refuse can be visited by child protective services. In British Columbia the practice is under review. There is also a concern of antibiotics being administered when they are not needed that could lead to increased antibiotic resistance, a growing global problem
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