Respiratory tract infections by Mycoplasma pneumoniae in children: a review of diagnostic and therapeutic measures

Eur J Pediatr. 2001 Aug;160(8):483-91. doi: 10.1007/s004310100775.


This review discusses the current knowledge on laboratory tests and treatment of respiratory tract infections caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae (MP) in children. MP infection is endemic in most areas of the world. The highest incidence is seen in children aged between 3 and 14 years. Most infections are mild and non-pneumonic. Parapneumonic complications of MP pneumonia are rare. Complications are described affecting the skin, central nervous system, kidneys, heart, muscles and the eyes. To diagnose an acute MP infection in children, a combination of PCR and IgM serology is sensitive and convenient. In both tests it is possible to obtain a result in 1 to 2 days. As a consequence, adequate antibiotic treatment can be prescribed to the child. Macrolides are the first choice in treatment of MP infection in children.

Conclusion: The most sensitive and rapid test to diagnose a Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection in children is a combination of nasopharyngeal polymerase chain reaction and IgM enzyme immunoassay. The treatment of choice in children is a macrolide.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Complement Fixation Tests
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Macrolides
  • Pneumonia, Mycoplasma / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Mycoplasma / therapy*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Macrolides