Background and aims In view of antibiotic resistance problems and development of atopic diseases there is a need to improve the appropriateness of antibiotic use, especially in young children. Antibiotics are mostly prescribed for upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) and otitis media (OM), while these are mostly of viral origin. We report antibiotic use for these infections in otherwise healthy term infants up to one year of age.
Methods The study was part of a multicenter nutritional intervention study (DRKS00000201) in which the parents recorded illness symptoms and antibiotic use of their child in a diary. Logistic regression was used to analyse differences in antibiotic use between the participating countries (Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany).
Results The study was completed by 839 children; 4798 illness episodes were reported, of which 501 (10.4%, range 3.9–18.4%) were treated with antibiotics.
URTI occurred in 2855 (59%) episodes (range 55–64%). Antibiotics were used more often in Italy compared to Switzerland: 18.8% versus 1.4%, OR=0.06(CI95%=0.02–0.1).
OM occurred in 184 (3.8%) episodes (range 2.0–6.8%). Antibiotics were used more often in Italy compared to the Netherlands: 82% versus 55%, OR=0.3(CI95%=0.1–0.6).
Conclusions Antibiotic use varies significantly between European countries while the occurrence of URTI and OM is rather similar. In the development of methods to increase appropriate use of antibiotics other factors, such as physicians attitude, parental influence, and other socio-economic determinants may better be taken into account.