Despite all efforts to curtail the use of antibiotics, an average of 27.3% of children used an antibiotic each year from 2004 to 2010, according to a study from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The most popular indication for antibiotic use – comprising an average of 68.6% annually of all children aged 1-17 years who used an antibiotic – was common respiratory tract infection (RTI), reported Eric M. Sarpong, Ph.D., and G. Edward Miller, Ph.D., who are both with the AHRQ in Rockville, Md.

Among the various RTIs, children who got an antibiotic were most likely to have otitis media (28.5%), followed by pharyngitis (20%). “Furthermore, significant proportions of children used antibiotics to treat three conditions – bronchitis (5.6%), sinusitis (9.8%), and the common cold (13.1%) – for which antibiotics are rarely, or never, indicated,” the investigators wrote (Health Serv. Res. 2014 Nov. 25 [ doi:10.1111/1475-6773.12260 ]).

After controlling for a range of factors, including race/ethnicity, age, insurance status, and location, the findings suggest that “an opportunity, as well as a need, exists for further improvement in the judicious and appropriate prescribing of antibiotics for children,” Dr. Sarpong and Dr. Miller noted.

The analysis used data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component , which was linked to the Multum Lexicon database to assess acquisition of antibiotics.

The investigators said that they had no conflicts of interest regarding the study.


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