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New Study Connects Zithromax to Blindness in Children

Sep 1, 2016

Zithromax is a widely used antibiotic prescribed to treat bacterial infections in children as well as adults, but recent studies have discovered links between Zithromax and blindness in children. Zithromax was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. Because many people are allergic to penicillin, Zithromax has been an antibiotic of preference.

Zithromax, also called Zmax or Z-pak, is manufactured and distributed by Pfizer Inc., and is one of the most popular antibiotics in the U.S. It is used to treat infections ranging from pneumonia to ear infections to STDs. Since Zithromax's dosage is normally from 3 to 5 days, people often prefer it to other antibiotics due to the shorter dosage time.

In 2012, the FDA warned Pfizer that it had been aware of serious side effects related to the use of Zithromax. Not everyone has problems, but some children experience a minor rash or diarrhea or vomiting. Recently, however, reports of some children experiencing very strong reactions to Zithromax have been reported including vision problems and even blindness.

Although Zithromax may be used to treat a different bacterial infection, it reduces the body's defenses to some other bacteria. A 2006 study revealed a link between Zithromax and blindness. It found that those that take Zithromax are 4 times more susceptible to an eye infection that can become serious and may lead to blindness.

Another very serious side effect of Zithromax is Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS). SJS is a life-threatening autoimmune reaction where the patient develops a painful rash, extensive blisters, and skin starts to slough off in big layers.

Zithromax decreases the body's ability to fight off infection on its own, and creates a risk for developing trachoma. Trachoma is an extremely serious, highly contagious eye infection that often leads to vision impairment or total blindness. Trachoma may be spread by contact with the eye, eyelids, nose and throat sections of people who are infected. It may also be spread through handkerchiefs or towels.

Trachoma is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the leading preventable cause of blindness in the world. WHO estimates that world-wide, trachoma has blinded 6 million people.

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