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Objectives: To investigate the association between hospital presentation for paediatric pneumonia or empyema and prior antibiotic use for respiratory tract infection (RTI). Methods: Case-control study of children aged 6 months to 16 years presenting to hospital with radiographic evidence of pneumonia or empyema and a history of general practitioner (GP) consultation for the index illness. Cases were recruited from seven hospitals in South Wales between October 2008 and December 2009. Controls were children from the same age group who were diagnosed with an uncomplicated RTI in general practice in the same area and at a similar time of year. Primary data were collected from carers by a self-complete questionnaire, with a subsample compared against general practice records. Results: We recruited 89 eligible cases and 166 eligible controls. Cases were less likely than controls to have been prescribed antibiotics at the first GP consultation for the index illness [odds ratio (OR) 0.53; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.31-0.90]. Stratified analyses revealed that this association was limited to children who consulted a GP <3 days after illness onset (OR 0.23; 95% CI 0.10-0.50). Cases were also less likely to have taken antibiotics before the date of index hospital presentation, but this finding was not statistically significant after adjustment for confounding factors (adjusted OR 0.84; 95% CI 0.47-1.49). Conclusions: Antibiotics prescribed at the first GP consultation for an RTI may protect against subsequent hospital presentation for pneumonia or empyema in some children. Given the strong rationale against unnecessary antibiotic prescribing, further research is needed to identify which children are most likely to benefit from early antibiotic treatment. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Publication Date





478 - 487