Comparative randomized trial of azithromycin versus erythromycin and amoxicillin for treatment of community-acquired pneumonia in children

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2003 Feb;35(2):91-8. doi: 10.1002/ppul.10180.


Our objective was to compare the clinical efficacy of azithromycin vs. erythromycin and amoxicillin in the treatment of presumed bacterial community-acquired pneumonia in ambulatory children, and to evaluate the etiologies of these illnesses. One hundred and ten children, aged 1 month to 14 years, were enrolled between January 1996-January 1999. Children were distributed into two groups according to clinical and radiological patterns: classic or atypical pneumonia. Patients with classic pneumonia were randomly assigned to receive oral amoxicillin 75 mg/kg/day for 7 days, or azithromycin 10 mg/kg/day for 3 days; patients with atypical pneumonia received azithromycin 10 mg/kg/day for 3 days, or erythromycin 50 mg/kg/day for 14 days. Chest X-ray, clinical, and laboratory parameters were obtained on enrollment. Clinic visits were performed on days 3, 7, and 14, and chest X-ray follow-up on days 7 and 14. Microbiological diagnosis of classic pathogens was based on blood and bronchial secretion cultures. The diagnosis of atypical pathogens C. pneumoniae, C. trachomatis, and M. pneumoniae was based on PCR and serologic tests.Forty-seven children met the criteria for classic pneumonia (23 children received azithromycin, and 24 received amoxicillin), and 59 children had atypical pneumonia (33 children were treated with azithromycin, and 26 with erythromycin). Demographic characteristics at enrollment were similar between children with classic pneumonia treated with azithromycin and erythromycin and children treated with azithromycin and erythromycin for atypical pneumonia. However, on day 7, children with classic pneumonia who received azithromycin normalized their chest X-ray more often than those who received amoxicillin (81.0% vs. 60.9%, respectively, P = 0.009). The same was true for children with atypical pneumonia; their chest X-rays had normalized by day 14 (100% in those with azithromycin vs. 81% in those with erythromycin, P = 0.059). Also, children with atypical pneumonia treated with azithromycin had earlier cessation of cough than children treated with erythromycin (3.6 +/- 1.9 vs. 5.5 +/- 3.6 days respectively, P = 0.02). There were only three children with side effects (mild diarrhea, all in the erythromycin group). Etiological agents were identified in 41% of children. In conclusion, azithromycin is an effective therapeutic option for the treatment of community-acquired classic and atypical pneumonia in children.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Amoxicillin / administration & dosage
  • Amoxicillin / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Azithromycin / administration & dosage
  • Azithromycin / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / etiology
  • Community-Acquired Infections / microbiology
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Erythromycin / administration & dosage
  • Erythromycin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Penicillins / administration & dosage
  • Penicillins / therapeutic use*
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / etiology
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Penicillins
  • Erythromycin
  • Amoxicillin
  • Azithromycin