A new study performed by the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital reveals that more than eleven million antibiotic prescriptions written each year for American children may be unnecessary.

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According to researchers, 57% of kids are prescribed these unnecessary drugs because pediatricians have difficulty distinguishing between viral and bacterial infections of the nose and throat.

Only bacterial infections need to be treated with antibiotics - drugs that kill bacteria or stop them from reproducing - but doctors and parents often err on the side of caution.

Dr. Tanya Altman joined Heather Nauert on Happening Now this morning and explained that physicians have a rapid strep test, but they have to use their best clinical guidelines for most other upper respiratory infections.

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Often, if there is any doubt as to the cause of the infection, parents can be the ones pushing to use antibiotics on their children.

"Parents are often looking for that quick fix because you just want to have your child feel better," Altman explained. "I think educating parents is really important, so I try to explain to them that kids will recover from viral infections on their own."

Altman warned that this excessive antibiotic use not only fails to get rid of viral illnesses, but it also accelerates the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or “superbugs.”

The study by the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital was published Monday in the journal “Pediatrics.”

Watch the clip from Happening Now above.

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