Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Indian Health Service (IHS) have found that short treatment courses of doxycycline can be administered in children <8 years old without staining teeth or weakening tooth enamel. Findings from the study are published in The Journal of Pediatrics.  

Tetracycline antibiotics include a warning label advising against use in children <8 years old due to the risk of tooth staining. Earlier research has pointed to teeth staining or problems in 23–92% of children who received older tetracyclines. For tickborne diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), the CDC recommends starting doxycycline as soon as it is suspected but doctors hesitate to prescribe doxycycline for this demographic.

RELATED: New Tickborne Illness Identified in Northern U.S.

Experts reviewed medical records for over 250 children who lived on an American Indian reservation with high rates of RMSF. They compared permanent teeth of children who had received doxycycline for suspected RMSF before their 8th birthday vs. those who had not. No differences were found in tooth color, staining, or evidence of tooth enamel weakness between the two groups. 

Study authors note changing the drug’s label may encourage earlier prescribing of doxycycline to treat children with suspected RMSF. In addition to RMSF, short courses of doxycycline in children may improve treatment of other infections

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