Background: The optimal duration of oral antibiotic therapy for urinary tract infection (UTI) in children has not been determined. A number of studies have compared single dose therapy to standard therapy for UTI, with mixed results. A course of antibiotics longer than a single dose but shorter than the usual 7-10 days might decrease the relapse rate and still provide some of the benefits of a shortened course of antibiotics.
Objectives: The objective of this review was to assess the benefits and harms of short-course (2-4 days) compared to standard duration (7-14 days) oral antibiotic treatment for acute UTI in children.
Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2002) MEDLINE (1966 - September 2002) and EMBASE (1988 -September 2002) without language restriction.
Selection criteria: Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials comparing short-term (2-4 days) with standard (7-14 days) oral antibiotic therapy were selected if they studied children aged three months to 18 years with culture proven UTI.
Data collection and analysis: Two reviewers independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. Statistical analyses were performed using the random effects model and the results expressed as relative risk (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).
Main results: Ten trials were identified in which 652 children with lower tract UTI were evaluated. There was no significant difference in the frequency of positive urine cultures between the short (2-4 days) and standard duration oral antibiotic therapy (7-14 days) for UTI in children at 0-10 days after treatment (eight studies: RR 1.06; 95% CI 0.64 to 1.76) and at one to 15 months after treatment (10 studies: RR 0.95; 95% CI 0.70 to 1.29). There was no significant difference between short and standard duration therapy in the development of resistant organisms in UTI at the end of treatment (one study: RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.32 to 1.01) or in recurrent UTI (three studies: RR 0.39, 95% CI 0.12 to 1.29).
Reviewer's conclusions: A 2-4 day course of oral antibiotics appears to be as effective as 7-14 days in eradicating lower tract UTI in children.