Antibiotics for community-acquired pneumonia in children

Sushil K Kabra, Rakesh Lodha, Ravindra M Pandey
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, (3): CD004874

BACKGROUND: Pneumonia caused by bacterial pathogens is the leading cause of mortality in children in low-income countries. Early administration of antibiotics improves outcomes.

OBJECTIVES: To identify effective antibiotics for community acquired pneumonia (CAP) in children by comparing various antibiotics.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2009, issue 2) which contains the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group's Specialised Register; MEDLINE (1966 to September 2009); and EMBASE (1990 to September 2009).

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in children of either sex, comparing at least two antibiotics for CAP within hospital or ambulatory (outpatient) settings.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently extracted data from full articles of selected studies.

MAIN RESULTS: There were 27 studies, which enroled 11,928 children, comparing multiple antibiotics. None compared antibiotic with placebo.For ambulatory treatment of non-severe CAP, amoxycillin compared with co-trimoxazole had similar failure rates (OR 0.92; 95% CI 0.58 to 1.47) and cure rates (OR 1.12; 95% CI 0.61 to 2.03). (Three studies involved 3952 children).In children hospitalised with severe CAP, oral amoxycillin compared with injectable penicillin or ampicillin had similar failure rates (OR 0.95; 95% CI 0.78 to 1.15). (Three studies involved 3942 children). Relapse rates were similar in the two groups (OR 1.28; 95% CI 0.34 to 4.82).In very severe CAP, death rates were higher in children receiving chloramphenicol compared to those receiving penicillin/ampicillin plus gentamycin (OR 1.25; 95% CI 0.76 to 2.07). (One study involved 1116 children).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There were many studies with different methodologies investigating multiple antibiotics. For treatment of ambulatory patients with CAP, amoxycillin is an alternative to co-trimoxazole. With limited data on other antibiotics, co-amoxyclavulanic acid and cefpodoxime may be alternative second-line drugs. For severe pneumonia without hypoxia, oral amoxycillin may be an alternative to injectable penicillin in hospitalised children; however, for ambulatory treatment of such patients with oral antibiotics, more studies in community settings are required. For children hospitalised with severe and very severe CAP, penicillin/ampicillin plus gentamycin is superior to chloramphenicol. The other alternative drugs for such patients are ceftrioxone, levofloxacin, co-amoxyclavulanic acid and cefuroxime. Until more studies are available, these can be used as a second-line therapy.There is a need for more studies with larger patient populations and similar methodologies to compare newer antibiotics.

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