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Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1993 Feb;12(2):115-20.

Potential interventions for preventing pneumonia among young children: lack of effect of antibiotic treatment for upper respiratory infections.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland, Baltimore.


Upper respiratory infections (URI) are a source of significant morbidity in childhood and have been associated with the development of certain bacterial infections. However, the high incidence of URI contrasted with the low incidence of lower respiratory infection (LRI) suggests a low rate of development of viral or bacterial LRI after URI. Because the etiology of URI is primarily viral, antibiotics do not have any significant effect on the URI episode itself but have been used to treat URI in hopes of preventing bacterial complications after URI. Meta-analysis of studies in developed and developing settings suggests that antibiotic treatment of children with URI does not shorten the course of URI and does not prevent the development of pneumonia. Several studies reporting both positive and negative results could not be included in the meta-analysis because they were not randomized trials or did not detail LRI outcomes in children sufficiently. Because of limitations in study design and definition of LRI, research in this area cannot be considered definitive. However, the weight of theoretical and experimental evidence is against antibiotic treatment of URI as a means of preventing the development of pneumonia after URI.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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