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Are macrolides beneficial in treating childhood asthma?
  1. Rama Lakshman
  1. Department of Paediatrics, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 0SP, UK
  1. Correspondence to Rama Lakshman, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1TN, UK; rama0lakshman{at}

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Clinical bottom lines

  • Macrolides are not justified in children with mild-to-moderate asthma, given the inconsistent evidence of clinical benefit and risk of antimicrobial resistance (grade B).

  • Macrolides might be helpful in children with severe multi-treatment-refractory asthma (grade C)

Clinical scenario

An 8-year-old boy with poorly controlled asthma presents to respiratory clinic. Two months ago, he had an asthma exacerbation while outside the UK and was prescribed azithromycin. His mother has continued giving it to him, as she feels it improves his respiratory symptoms.

Structured clinical question

In children with asthma (population), is adjunctive macrolide therapy (intervention) beneficial in treating exacerbations and/or persistent uncontrolled symptoms (outcomes)?


A Cochrane library search for ‘macrolides’ AND ‘asthma’ AND ‘children’ resulted in two relevant systematic reviews.1 2 Search of MEDLINE via PubMed using the keywords ‘macrolide OR erythromycin OR azithromycin OR clarithromycin OR telithromycin OR fidaxomicin OR troleandomycin OR spiramycin’ AND ‘asthma OR wheeze’ AND ‘children OR paediatric’ identified 13 additional systematic reviews, 4 relevant,3–6 as well as 34 clinical trials, 7 relevant. …

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  • Contributors RL conceptualised the study, performed the search, appraised the evidence, drafted the manuscript and approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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

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