Developing community-specific recommendations for first-line treatment of acute otitis media: is high-dose amoxicillin necessary?

Pediatrics. 2004 Aug;114(2):342-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.114.2.342.


Objectives: National recommendations are to use high-dose amoxicillin (80-90 mg/kg per day) to treat uncomplicated acute otitis media (AOM) in children who are at high risk for infection with nonsusceptible Streptococcus pneumoniae (NSSP). However, high-dose treatment may not be necessary if the local prevalence of NSSP is low. The objective of this study was to estimate the local prevalence of NSSP in children with acute upper respiratory illnesses and to develop community-specific recommendations for first-line empiric treatment of AOM.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional prevalence study in the offices of 7 community pediatricians in St Louis, Missouri. S pneumoniae was isolated from nasopharyngeal swabs collected from children who were younger than 7 years and had AOM, nonspecific upper respiratory infection, cough, acute sinusitis, or pharyngitis. Children were excluded from the study when they had received an antibiotic in the previous 4-week period. Parents and providers completed a brief questionnaire to assess risk factors for carriage of NSSP. On the basis of National Clinical Chemistry Laboratory Standards, isolates with a penicillin minimum inhibitory concentration > or =0.12 microg/mL were considered to be nonsusceptible to penicillin (NSSP), and isolates with a penicillin minimum inhibitory concentration >2 microg/mL were categorized as nonsusceptible to standard-dose amoxicillin (35-45 mg/kg per day; NSSP-A).

Results: S pneumoniae was isolated from the nasopharynx of 85 (40%) of 212 study patients (95% confidence interval [CI]: 33%-47%); 41 (48%) of 85 isolates were NSSP (95% CI: 37%-59%), and 6 (7%) were NSSP-A (95% CI: 1.5%-13%). Among the 212 study patients, the prevalence of NSSP was 19% (95% CI: 14%-25%), and the prevalence of NSSP-A was 3% (95% CI: 0.6%-5%). Carriage of NSSP was increased in child care attendees compared with nonattendees (29% vs 14%; odds ratio: 2.6; 95% CI: 1.3-5.2).

Conclusions: In our community, although the prevalence of NSSP among isolates of S pneumoniae identified from the nasopharynx of symptomatic children is high (48%), the probability of NSSP-A infection among symptomatic children is <5%. Our data support a recommendation to treat most children who have uncomplicated AOM with standard-dose amoxicillin. Children who attend child care or have recently received an antibiotic may require treatment with high-dose amoxicillin. Other communities may benefit from a similar assessment of the prevalence of NSSP and NSSP-A.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Amoxicillin / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nasopharynx / microbiology
  • Otitis Media / drug therapy*
  • Otitis Media / microbiology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Prevalence
  • Streptococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Streptococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / drug effects
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / isolation & purification*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Amoxicillin