Role of antimicrobial stewardship programmes in children: a systematic review

J Hosp Infect. 2018 Jun;99(2):117-123. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2017.08.003. Epub 2017 Aug 12.


The United Nations and the World Health Organization have designated antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a major health priority and developed action plans to reduce AMR in all healthcare settings. Establishment of institutional antimicrobial stewardship programmes (ASPs) is advocated as a key intervention to reduce antibiotic consumption in hospitals and address high rates of multi-drug-resistant (MDR) bacteria. PUBMED and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (January 2007-March 2017) were searched to identify studies reporting the effectiveness of ASPs in general paediatric wards and paediatric intensive care units (PICUs) for reducing antibiotic consumption, use of broad-spectrum/restricted antibiotics, and antibiotic resistance and healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Neonatal units and antifungal agents were excluded. Of 2509 titles and abstracts, nine articles were eligible for inclusion in the final analysis. All studies reported a reduction in the use of broad-spectrum/restricted antibiotics or antibiotic consumption. One study reported a reduction in HAIs in a PICU, and another study evaluated bacterial resistance, showing no effect following ASP implementation. Prospective audit on antibiotic use was the most common ASP core component (eight of nine studies). Antibiotic pre-authorization was described in two studies. Other described interventions were the provision of guidelines or written information (five of nine studies), and training of healthcare professionals (one study). There is limited evidence for a reduction in antibiotic consumption and use of broad-spectrum/restricted agents following ASP implementation specifically in PICUs. Data evaluating the impact of ASPs on HAIs and AMR in PICUs are lacking. In addition, there is limited information on effective components of a successful ASP in PICUs.

Keywords: Antimicrobial stewardship programme; Children; MDRO; Multi-drug-resistant bacteria; PICU.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Utilization / standards*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Organizational Policy
  • Program Evaluation


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents