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Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2003 Mar;12(2):113-20.

Prescriptions of systemic antibiotics for children in Germany aged between 0 and 6 years.

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Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Medical Faculty, Technical University, Fiedlerstrasse 27, D-01307 Dresden, Germany.


Limited information is available about systemic antibiotic use among children in Germany. We therefore assessed prescription patterns by office-based physicians to analyse antibiotic consumption in early childhood. A total of 331 children < 6 years were eligible for inclusion. The number of antibiotic prescriptions, consumed daily doses, number of treatment courses, types of antibiotics and diagnoses for prescribing were determined. The prevalence of systemic antibiotic treatment was 42.9%. Antibiotic consumption was highest between 2 and 3 years of age (55.8%). The percentage of children receiving one, two or three courses of antibiotic treatment was 49.3, 28.2 and 16.2%, respectively. Acute otitis media (32.2%), upper respiratory tract infections (18.9%), tonsillitis (15.9%) and acute bronchitis (15.4%) were principal indications for treatment. Macrolides were most frequently prescribed (48.1%), followed by penicillin V (21.3%), broad-spectrum penicillins (14.3%), sulfonamides (10.5%) and cephalosporins (5.8%). Antibiotics not recommended for particular indication were selected in 5-43% of cases. The considerable prescription of systemic antibiotics to children in many European countries is also the case in Germany. A noteworthy trend emerged for suboptimal prescribing with second-line antibiotics. As such treatment may be associated with the development of bacterial resistance, improved guidelines for antibiotic treatment should be drawn up and enforced.

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