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Paediatr Drugs. 2001;3(10):733-61.

Commonly used antibacterial and antifungal agents for hospitalised paediatric patients: implications for therapy with an emphasis on clinical pharmacokinetics.

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Division of Infectious Disease, Children's Hospital of Orange County, Orange, California 92868, USA.


Due to normal growth and development, hospitalised paediatric patients with infection require unique consideration of immune function and drug disposition. Specifically, antibacterial and antifungal pharmacokinetics are influenced by volume of distribution, drug binding and elimination, which are a reflection of changing extracellular fluid volume, quantity and quality of plasma proteins, and renal and hepatic function. However, there is a paucity of data in paediatric patients addressing these issues and many empiric treatment practices are based on adult data. The penicillins and cephalosporins continue to be a mainstay of therapy because of their broad spectrum of activity, clinical efficacy and favourable tolerability profile. These antibacterials rapidly reach peak serum concentrations and readily diffuse into body tissues. Good penetration into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) has made the third-generation cephalosporins the agents of choice for the treatment of bacterial meningitis. These drugs are excreted primarily by the kidney. The carbapenems are broad-spectrum beta-lactam antibacterials which can potentially replace combination regimens. Vancomycin is a glycopeptide antibacterial with gram-positive activity useful for the treatment of resistant infections, or for those patients allergic to penicillins and cephalosporins. Volume of distribution is affected by age, gender, and bodyweight. It diffuses well across serous membranes and inflamed meninges. Vancomycin is excreted by the kidneys and is not removed by dialysis. The aminoglycosides continue to serve a useful role in the treatment of gram-negative, enterococcal and mycobacterial infections. Their volume of distribution approximates extracellular space. These drugs are also excreted renally and are removed by haemodialysis. Passage across the blood-brain barrier is poor, even in the face of meningeal inflammation. Low pH found in abscess conditions impairs function. Toxicity needs to be considered. Macrolide antibacterials are frequently used in the treatment of respiratory infections. Parenteral erythromycin can cause phlebitis, which limits its use. Parenteral azithromycin is better tolerated but paediatric pharmacokinetic data are lacking. Clindamycin is frequently used when anaerobic infections are suspected. Good oral absorption makes it a good choice for step-down therapy in intra-abdominal and skeletal infections. The use of quinolones in paediatrics has been restricted and most information available is in cystic fibrosis patients. High oral bioavailability is also important for step-down therapy. Amphotericin B has been the cornerstone of antifungal treatment in hospitalised patients. Its metabolism is poorly understood. The half-life increases with time and can be as long as 15 days after prolonged therapy. Oral absorption is poor. The azole antifungals are being used increasingly. Fluconazole is well tolerated, with high bioavailability and good penetration into the CSF. Itraconazole has greater activity against aspergillus, blastomycosis, histoplasmosis and sporotrichosis, although it's pharmacological and toxicity profiles are not as favourable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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