HealthDay News — Many American parents still have misconceptions about when their children should receive antibiotics and what the medications do, a new study published in Pediatrics indicates. 

The researchers surveyed 707 parents in Massachusetts about their beliefs regarding antibiotics. The parents all had a child younger than 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. 

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Almost 80% of parents with private insurance correctly answered that antibiotics are not needed for colds or the flu. Among Medicaid parents, 44% answered correctly. Similarly, 53% of parents with private insurance correctly answered that green nasal discharge doesn’t mean a child needs antibiotics. That compared to 38% 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% 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% of parents with Medicaid would do so, according to the report.


1. Vaz LE, et al. Pediatrics. 2015; doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-0883