Short- Versus Prolonged-Duration Antibiotics for Outpatient Pneumonia in Children

J Pediatr. 2021 Jul:234:205-211.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2021.03.017. Epub 2021 Mar 18.


Objective: To identify practice patterns in the duration of prescribed antibiotics for the treatment of ambulatory children with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and to compare the frequency of adverse clinical outcomes between children prescribed short-vs prolonged-duration antibiotics.

Study design: We performed a retrospective cohort study from 2010-2016 using the IBM Watson MarketScan Medicaid Database, a claims database of publicly insured patients from 11 states. We included children 1-18 years old with outpatient CAP who filled a prescription for oral antibiotics (n = 121 846 encounters). We used multivariable logistic regression to determine associations between the duration of prescribed antibiotics (5-9 days vs 10-14 days) and subsequent hospitalizations, new antibiotic prescriptions, and acute care visits. Outcomes were measured during the 14 days following the end of the dispensed antibiotic course.

Results: The most commonly prescribed duration of antibiotics was 10 days (82.8% of prescriptions), and 10.5% of patients received short-duration therapy. During the follow-up period, 0.2% of patients were hospitalized, 6.2% filled a new antibiotic prescription, and 5.1% had an acute care visit. Compared with the prolonged-duration group, the aORs for hospitalization, new antibiotic prescriptions, and acute care visits in the short-duration group were 1.16 (95% CI 0.80-1.66), 0.93 (95% CI 0.85-1.01), and 1.06 (95% CI 0.98-1.15), respectively.

Conclusions: Most children treated for CAP as outpatients are prescribed at least 10 days of antibiotic therapy. Among pediatric outpatients with CAP, no significant differences were found in rates of adverse clinical outcomes between patients prescribed short-vs prolonged-duration antibiotics.

Keywords: antibiotic stewardship; comparative effectiveness; pneumonia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory Care / methods*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Pneumonia / drug therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents