Antibiotic use in infants in the first year of life in five European countries

Acta Paediatr. 2012 Sep;101(9):929-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2012.02728.x. Epub 2012 Jun 12.


Aim: To assess in infants the number of illness episodes treated with antibiotics and prescription rates in five European countries.

Methods: This study was embedded in a multicenter nutritional intervention study and was conducted in five European countries. Infants were followed until 1 year of age. Illness episodes and prescriptions of systemic antibiotics were recorded by the parents.

Results: Illness episodes were caused by upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) in 55-64% and by otitis media (OM) in 2-6.8%. URTIs were statistically significant and more frequently treated with antibiotics in Italy (18.8%), and less frequently in Switzerland (1.4%). OM was statistically significant and less frequently treated with antibiotics in the Netherlands (55%) when compared to Italy (82%). The antibiotic prescription rate varied between countries, ranging from 0.2 to 1.3 prescriptions per infant per year.

Conclusions: As the frequency of illness episodes did not differ between countries, other factors, such as physician's attitude, parental pressure or other socio-economic determinants, most likely play a role in antibiotic prescribing habits in the first year of life.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gastroenteritis / drug therapy
  • Gastroenteritis / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Otitis Media / drug therapy
  • Otitis Media / epidemiology
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Prebiotics
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Vomiting / drug therapy
  • Vomiting / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Prebiotics