Antibiotic management of children with infectious diseases in Dutch Primary Care

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Childhood infections are common in general practice. Although clinical guidelines recommend restrictive antibiotic use for children, antibiotics are too often prescribed.


The aim of this study was to obtain insight in antibiotic prescribing for children related to clinical diagnoses. This is pivotal to define improvement strategies in the antibiotic management.


In this observational study, we used consultation data collected from 45 general practices in the Netherlands in 2012. Infectious disease episode incidences, the number of antibiotic prescriptions per 1000 person-years, the proportion of episodes with an antibiotic prescription and the choice of antibiotic subclass were analysed for the most relevant diagnoses over different ages.


A total of 262 antibiotic courses were prescribed per 1000 person-years on average, with the highest number among children of 1 year (714/1000 person-years). Antibiotics were prescribed in 24% of infectious disease episodes. Acute upper respiratory tract infection (RTI) was the most common reason to visit the GP (173/1000 person-years), and the second most frequent indication to prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics were most often prescribed for acute otitis media (58/1000 person-years). Amoxicillin dominated prescribing (55%), followed by macrolides (14%) and amoxicillin/clavulanate (10%), prescribing of narrow-spectrum antibiotics was low (10%).


This detailed insight in antibiotic management of childhood infections shows targets for Dutch improvement strategies: (i) prevent antibiotic prescribing for acute upper RTI and bronchitis; (ii) stimulate the use of narrow-spectrum antibiotics; and (iii) reduce the use of macrolides and amoxicillin/clavulanate. Furthermore, this information is helpful to compare antibiotic policy between countries.</span>

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