“The threat of resistance to antibiotics by bacteria increased so dramatically from the 1970s to the mid-1990s that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) labeled it a national public health crisis,” said Jonathan Finkelstein of the Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Boston. The CDC has called on doctors to be sure their patients’ conditions really warrant use of the drugs, and to resist parental pressure to prescribe antibiotics for their children’s colds or flu. This attention by public health agencies, the news media, and others appears to be working. Finkelstein and his colleagues did a study that reveals a steep drop in prescriptions written for children from 1996 to 2000. The researchers checked information on 225,000 patients ages 3 months to 18 years in nine health plans in various parts of the United States. They found a 24 percent drop for kids ages 3 months to 3 years, 25 percent for those 3 to 6 years, and 16 percent for the 6- to 18-year group. The results were published in the September 2003 issue of the journal Pediatrics.