Parents are being urged by England’s top doctor to keep surfaces clean and make sure children’s hands are washed in a bid to drive down illness and resistance to antibiotics.
In an “urgent video appeal” from Public Health England, England’s chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said parents should do all they can to help preserve the “precious” drugs.
Parents are also being told not to ask their GPs for antibiotics for conditions such as coughs and colds.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria adapt and find ways to survive the effects of the medicine.
Public Health England said estimates for the EU showed there are 400,000 cases of reported antibiotic-resistant infections each year, with 25,000 deaths.
Dame Sally is joined by Dr Hilary Jones, Dr Rosemary Leonard, Dr Sarah Jarvis, Dr Ellie Cannon and Dr Carol Cooper to spread the message about antibiotic resistance.
Tips for parents include keeping surfaces clean, washing hands regularly, carrying tissues for coughs and sneezes and then binning them, seeking advice from a pharmacist when coughs and colds strike, and heating the home to least 18C if possible.
Parents are also being reminded that sore throats, colds, coughs and earaches usually get better on their own without the need for antibiotics.
Dame Sally said: “Resistance to antibiotics is putting people’s lives at risk, as well as creating extra pressure on our healthcare system, with drug-resistant strains of common diseases emerging here in the UK.
“We need to ensure that we only use antibiotics when clinically relevant, so I urge everyone to visit a pharmacist first before going to their GP, and to always complete courses of antibiotics if they are prescribed.
“These simple actions will help preserve these precious drugs and help to save modern medicine as we know it.”
Dr Cannon said: “As a mum of two, I completely understand that the sight of a poorly child is an upsetting one and we want to do everything we can to help our little ones get better, but we must trust our GPs to know when antibiotics are and are not needed, so we urge parents not to ask for them.
“The threat of antibiotic resistance is real and we all have a part to play.”