(HealthDay News) — For young children with undifferentiated acute respiratory infections (ARIs), current evidence does not support the use of antibiotics to prevent ear infections or pneumonia, according to a review published online February 18 in The Cochrane Library.

Márcia G. Alves Galvão, PhD, from the Municipal Secretariat of Health in Rio de Janeiro, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to examine the effectiveness of antibiotics in preventing complications in children aged 2–59 months with undifferentiated ARIs. Data were reviewed from four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or quasi-RCTs, involving 1,314 children with an undifferentiated ARI to compare antibiotic prescriptions with placebo or non-treatment.

The researchers found that in three trials, involving 414 selected children, with moderate-quality evidence, the use of amoxicillin/clavulanic acid versus placebo to prevent otitis demonstrated a risk ratio (RR) of 0.70 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45–1.11). Based on one trial involving 889 selected children, with moderate-quality evidence, the use of ampicillin compared with supportive care to prevent pneumonia showed a RR of 1.05 (95% CI, 0.74–1.49).

“The quality of evidence currently available does not provide strong support for antibiotic use as a means of reducing the risk of otitis or pneumonia in children up to 5 years of age with undifferentiated ARIs,” the authors write.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)