The Association of Antibiotic Duration With Successful Treatment of Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Children

J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. 2021 Apr 3;10(3):267-273. doi: 10.1093/jpids/piaa055.


Background: National guidelines recommend 10 days of antibiotics for children with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), acknowledging that the outcomes of children hospitalized with CAP who receive shorter durations of therapy have not been evaluated.

Methods: We conducted a comparative effectiveness study of children aged ≥6 months hospitalized at The Johns Hopkins Hospital who received short-course (5-7 days) vs prolonged-course (8-14 days) antibiotic therapy for uncomplicated CAP between 2012 and 2018 using an inverse probability of treatment weighted propensity score analysis. Inclusion was limited to children with clinical and radiographic criteria consistent with CAP, as adjudicated by 2 infectious diseases physicians. Children with tracheostomies; healthcare-associated, hospital-acquired, or ventilator-associated pneumonia; loculated or moderate to large pleural effusion or pulmonary abscess; intensive care unit stay >48 hours; cystic fibrosis/bronchiectasis; severe immunosuppression; or unusual pathogens were excluded. The primary outcome was treatment failure, a composite of unanticipated emergency department visits, outpatient visits, hospital readmissions, or death (all determined to be likely attributable to bacterial pneumonia) within 30 days after completing antibiotic therapy.

Results: Four hundred and thirty-nine patients met eligibility criteria; 168 (38%) patients received short-course therapy (median, 6 days) and 271 (62%) received prolonged-course therapy (median, 10 days). Four percent of children experienced treatment failure, with no differences observed between patients who received short-course vs prolonged-course antibiotic therapy (odds ratio, 0.48; 95% confidence interval, .18-1.30).

Conclusions: A short course of antibiotic therapy (approximately 5 days) does not increase the odds of 30-day treatment failure compared with longer courses for hospitalized children with uncomplicated CAP.

Keywords: antibiotics; bacterial pneumonia; duration of therapy; pediatrics.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Community-Acquired Infections* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Pneumonia* / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial* / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents