Arch Dis Child doi:10.1136/archdischild-2011-301150
  • Drug therapy
  • Original articles

Antibiotic use in children and the use of medicines by parents

  1. Lolkje T W de Jong-van den Berg1
  1. 1Department of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Paediatrics, Medical Center Leeuwarden, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Josta de Jong, University of Groningen, Department of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Groningen 9713AV, The Netherlands;{at}
  1. Contributors Josta de Jong performed the study and wrote the manuscript. Jens Bos, IT specialist and programmer, developed the databases and assisted in selection and analysis of the data. Tjalling de Vries advised in the study design, analysis and writing of the manuscript. Lolkje de Jong-van den Berg was supervisor and advisor during the performance of this study.

  • Accepted 19 January 2012
  • Published Online First 29 March 2012


Objective Antibiotic drugs are frequently used for viral infections in children. It is probable that health beliefs and parental concern have great influence on the use of drugs in children. This study, performed in The Netherlands, investigates whether the use of antibiotics in children is associated with the use of medicines by parents.

Patients and methods In this observational cohort study, the authors selected 6731 children from the prescription database who did not receive antibiotics until their fifth birthday and 1479 children who received at least one antibiotic prescription every year. The authors then selected parents for each group of children (5790 mothers and 4250 fathers for the children who did not receive antibiotics and 1234 mothers and 1032 fathers for the children who regularly received antibiotics). The authors compared the use of antibiotics and other medicines between the two groups of parents.

Results Parents of children who received antibiotics recurrently were found to use more antibiotics themselves compared with parents of children who did not receive antibiotics. Moreover, this group also showed a higher percentage of chronic medication use: (11.3 vs 6.2% (mothers) and 13.1% vs 9.5% (fathers)). Mothers more often use antacids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesics, anxiolytics, hypnotics, antidepressants, drugs for treatment of asthma and antihistamines. Fathers use more antacids, cardiovascular drugs, NSAIDs and asthma drugs.

Conclusions The parents of children who receive antibiotic drugs regularly use more medicines compared with the parents of children who use no antibiotic drugs. Parents' medicine use may influence that of children and is a factor physicians and pharmacists should take into account.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.