Updated Guidelines for the Management of Acute Otitis Media in Children by the Italian Society of Pediatrics: Treatment

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2019 Dec;38(12S Suppl):S10-S21. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000002452.


Background: New insights into the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of acute otitis media (AOM) have been gained in recent years. For this reason, the Italian Paediatric Society has updated its 2010 guidelines.

Methods: A literature search was carried out on PubMed. Only pediatric studies published between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2018 in English or Italian were included. Each included study was assessed according to the GRADE methodology. The quality of the systematic reviews was assessed using AMSTAR 2. The recommendations were formulated by a multidisciplinary panel of experts.

Results: Prompt antibiotic treatment is recommended for children with otorrhea, intracranial complications and/or a history of recurrence and for children under the age of 6 months. For children 6 months to 2 years of age, prompt antibiotic treatment is recommended for all forms of unilateral and bilateral AOM, whether mild or severe. Prompt antibiotic treatment is also recommended for children over 2 years with severe bilateral AOM. A watchful-waiting approach can be applied to children over 2 years with mild or severe unilateral AOM or mild bilateral AOM. High doses of amoxicillin, or amoxicillin-clavulanic acid for patients with a high risk of infection by Beta-lactamase producing strains, remain the first-line antibiotics.

Conclusions: AOM should be managed on a case-by-case basis that takes account of the child's age, the severity of the episode and whether it is unilateral or bilateral. In patients under 2 years, prompt antibiotic treatment is always recommended.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Italy
  • Otitis Media / drug therapy*
  • Otitis Media / pathology
  • Otitis Media / physiopathology
  • Pediatrics / organization & administration*
  • Pediatrics / standards*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents