JUL 05, 2022 10:30 AM PDT

Telehealth Reduced Need for Antibiotics in Rural, Underserved Nurseries

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

Telehealth has significantly altered the healthcare landscape, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the many benefits of telehealth, according to research, is its ability to improve access to quality healthcare. For example, telehealth appears to be a powerful tool for improving overall access to care for a range of health conditions as well as improving overall health outcomes in certain situations. 

Telehealth has also proven capable of addressing barriers to access related to geographical locations, particularly for individuals living in remote rural areas. A new research study conducted by a team at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio adds to the growing evidence of telehealth’s access benefits for people in remote areas. The study specifically examines the role telehealth played in helping nurseries in south Texas reduce their prescribing of antibiotics to newborns. Results of the study study are published in Pediatrics.

Despite their vital role as a bacterial infection treatment option, antibiotics need to be used very carefully. In both adults and children, antibiotics can disrupt the bacterial ecosystem in the gut (known as the gut microbiome). While this can have significant health impacts in adults, these impacts are especially pronounced in children and infants. When this ecosystem is thrown out of balance, infants don’t have the necessary “good” bacteria they need to avoid certain health problems, such as food allergies. That’s why finding ways to minimize antibiotic use for infants is crucial.

The study in Pediatrics explores whether telehealth can be a way to help rural and medically underserved communities find ways to avoid antibiotics when possible. They chose south Texas because several areas had little or no access to healthcare providers. The study followed eight nurseries in south Texas over a three year period, resulting in about 9,000 infants observed. The nurseries had access to a pediatric infectious disease expert over telehealth during that time. 

Overall, the results show that with access to telehealth consultations, the nurseries reduced their antibiotic use for infants by nearly a third (32%), showing that telehealth can provide rural areas with quality, effective healthcare. 

Sources: EurekaAlert!; Annual Review of Public Health; Pediatrics

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
You May Also Like
DEC 17, 2022
Space & Astronomy
JWST Captures the Death of a Multi-Star System
JWST Captures the Death of a Multi-Star System
A new study published in Nature Astronomy explains how the Southern Ring Nebula obtained its unique shape; the shape is ...
DEC 19, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Future Moon and Mars Astronauts Could Use Microbes for Settlement Construction
Future Moon and Mars Astronauts Could Use Microbes for Settlement Construction
In a recent study published in Materials Today Bio, an international team of researchers led by the University of Califo ...
DEC 21, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Solar System Moons: Miranda
Solar System Moons: Miranda
The solar system has over 200 moons and exhibits some unique features, but one stands out as being extra weird. This is ...
JAN 09, 2023
Space & Astronomy
A Large Volcanic Outburst on Io
A Large Volcanic Outburst on Io
A large volcanic outburst was discovered on Io, a large moon of Jupiter. Io is the most volcanic body in the Solar Syste ...
JAN 11, 2023
Space & Astronomy
Binary Black Hole Pair Resolved in the Center of Nearby Galaxy Merger
Binary Black Hole Pair Resolved in the Center of Nearby Galaxy Merger
A team of astronomers have found a pair of supermassive black holes near the center of a newly forming galaxy. The black ...
JAN 25, 2023
Space & Astronomy
The Reflective and Beautiful Atmosphere of Venus | Solar System Wonders
The Reflective and Beautiful Atmosphere of Venus | Solar System Wonders
Labroots previously examined the planet Venus, calling it “The Deceptive Planet”. This was due to its beauti ...
Loading Comments...