CDC Says Misperceptions Keep Kids from Getting Lifesaving Treatment for Tickborne Diseases

Short-term doxycycline use does not stain kids’ teeth, CDC/IHS study finds

March 17, 2015 – Kids are five times more likely than adults to die from tickborne diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). Doctors often avoid prescribing doxycycline, the most effective RMSF treatment, for young children because the drug’s warning label cautions that tooth staining may be a side effect in children younger than 8 years. A new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics suggests that for patients with RMSF, this warning may be doing more harm than good.

The study led by experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Indian Health Service (IHS)  found that short courses of the antibiotic doxycycline can be used in children under 8 years old without staining teeth or weakening tooth enamel.

CDC and IHS researchers reviewed medical records for more than 250 children who lived on an American Indian reservation with high rates of RMSF. Dentists inspected the permanent teeth of children who had received doxycycline for suspected RMSF before their 8th birthday and those who had not, without knowing which children had received the drug. The dentists evaluated tooth color and looked for tooth staining and evidence of weakness in the tooth enamel of all children in the study. They found no differences between the two groups in tooth color, staining, or enamel.

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