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Acute otitis media in pediatric medicine: current issues in epidemiology, diagnosis, and management

Eugene Leibovitz
Paediatric Drugs 2003, 5 Suppl 1: 1-12
14632101
Acute otitis media (AOM) is not only the most common bacterial infection in children in the United States, it is also the most common indication for the prescription of antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotic resistance to pathogens (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis) typically causative of AOM, continues to increase. More than 30% of the beta-lactamase producing H. influenzae are resistant to amoxicillin and virtually all strains of M. catarrhalis are beta-lactamase-positive. The emergence of multidrug-resistant strains, particularly S. pneumoniae, complicates the management of AOM and increases the risk for treatment failure. Because of growing resistance, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics promote the judicious use of antibiotics in the treatment of AOM. Their recommendations emphasize the importance of distinguishing AOM from otitis media with effusion, minimizing the use of antibiotics, and discerning between first- and second-line antibiotics in the treatment of simple uncomplicated AOM versus non-responsive/recurrent AOM. Because spontaneous cure rates are lower in complicated AOM and AOM secondary to S. pneumoniae infection, antibiotic therapy remains an appropriate treatment option for most children with AOM. When amoxicillin, the treatment of choice in AOM, is not effective or not tolerated in children, the prescriber should consider an alternative that displays not only excellent antimicrobial activity against the suspected pathogens, but also characteristics, such as convenient dosing, tolerability, and palatability, that promote compliance and adherence in children. The cephalosporins offer an alternative to penicillins. Cephalosporins such as cefuroxime axetil (second-generation) and cefdinir and cefpodoxime proxetil (third-generation), offer a broad spectrum of activity and are approved for use in a convenient once- or twice-daily dosing schedule, thus increasing the likelihood of compliance with the full course of therapy. Cefdinir is a possible second-line alternative to amoxicillin for children with AOM, particularly among children who are likely to be noncompliant with a two- to three-times-daily dosing schedule, and those instances where there is a high likelihood for, or a known infection with an amoxicillin-resistant pathogen.

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