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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Mar 17;(3):CD004874. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004874.pub3.

Antibiotics for community-acquired pneumonia in children.

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  • 1Pediatric Pulmonology Division, Department of Pediatrics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, India, 110029.

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


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


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).


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


Two review authors independently extracted data from full articles of selected studies.


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).


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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