Antimicrobial agents are prescribed for children with respiratory tract infections nearly twice as often as expected, the results of a study published in the October 1, 2014 issue of Pediatrics suggest.
The researchers of the study first conducted a meta-analysis of pediatric studies published from 2000 to 2011 to determine the bacterial prevalence for 5 acute respiratory tract infections common among children—acute otitis media, sinusitis, bronchitis, upper respiratory tract infection, and pharyngitis. No upper respiratory tract infection or bronchitis studies met the inclusion criteria. They then analyzed data from the 2000-2010 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to estimate the rate of antimicrobial prescribing among children visiting ambulatory clinics for respiratory infections.
The meta-analysis determined that bacteria were present in 64.7% of children with ear infections, 20.2% of those with pharyngitis, and 78% of those with sinusitis. Based on these bacterial prevalence rates, antimicrobial agents should have been prescribed for 27.4% of overall respiratory tract infections. The results of the study, however, indicated that antimicrobial agents were prescribed for 56.9% of all respiratory tract infection visits. The researchers estimated that 11.4 million antimicrobial prescriptions could have potentially been avoided.