Arch Dis Child doi:10.1136/archdischild-2012-303134
  • Original article

Oral and topical antibiotic prescriptions for children in general practice

  1. Jochen W L Cals1,2
  1. 1Department of General Practice, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Limburg, The Netherlands
  2. 2School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI), Maastricht University, Maastricht, Limburg, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Medical Microbiology, Maastricht University Medical Centre, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Sexual Health, Infectious Diseases, and Environmental Health, Public Health Service South Limburg, Geleen, Limburg, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Eefje G P M de Bont, Department of General Practice, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, Maastricht 6200 MD, The Netherlands; eefje.debont{at}
  • Received 2 October 2012
  • Revised 27 November 2012
  • Accepted 28 November 2012
  • Published Online First 25 December 2012


Objective Most primary care clinical guidelines recommend restrictive antibiotic use for childhood infections. We investigated antibiotic prescription rates over time for oral and topical antibiotics for children (≤12 years) in the period 2000–2010.

Design, setting and patients Longitudinal observational study among children (≤12 years) in a large Dutch general practice database in the period 2000–2010.

Main outcome measures Oral and topical antibiotic prescribing rates per year and independent factors influencing antibiotic prescriptions.

Results We analysed 108 555 patient-years during 2000–2010. At least one chronic disease was recorded in 15.8% of patient-years, with asthma most commonly registered. In 14.8% of the patient-years at least one antibiotic was prescribed, while 26.3% of these received two or more prescriptions. Young age and chronic disease had a significant effect on antibiotic prescriptions. Prescriptions for oral and topical antibiotics increased 4.9% and 1.8%, respectively, during 2000–2005 (p<0.001). Prescription rates for oral antibiotics decreased 3.3% during 2006–2010 (p<0.001), while topical prescribing rates remained stable.

Conclusions One in six children received at least one oral antibiotic prescription per year during 2000–2010. While topical prescription rates steadily increased during 2005–2010 and remained stable during 2006–2010, prescription rates for oral antibiotics increased significantly during the period 2000–2005 and then significantly decreased during the period 2006–2010. As clinical guidelines remained the same over this period, the effects could be contributed to the initiation of the Dutch nationwide pneumococcal vaccination campaign in 2006.

Free sample

This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of ADC.
View free sample issue >>

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.

Navigate This Article