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Antibiotics for preventing complications in children with measles.

Author(s): Kabra SK(1), Lodha R.

Affiliation(s): Author information: (1)Pediatric Pulmonology Division, Department of Pediatrics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, India, 110029.

Publication date & source: 2013, Cochrane Database Syst Rev. , 8:CD001477

BACKGROUND: Measles is the leading killer among vaccine-preventable diseases; it is responsible for an estimated 44% of the 1.7 million vaccine-preventable deaths among children annually. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of antibiotics given to children with measles to prevent complications and reduce pneumonia, other morbidities and mortality. SEARCH METHODS: We searched CENTRAL 2013, Issue 4, MEDLINE (1966 to May week 4, 2013) and EMBASE (1980 to May 2013). SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs comparing antibiotics with placebo or no treatment, to prevent complications in children with measles. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality. MAIN RESULTS: Seven trials with 1263 children were included. The methodological quality of most studies was poor. Only two studies were randomized, double-blind trials. There was variation in antibiotics used, their doses, schedule and evaluation of outcome. Pooled study data showed that the incidence of pneumonia was lower in the treatment group compared to the control group. However, the difference was not statistically significant. Of the 654 children who received antibiotics, 27 (4.1%) developed pneumonia; while out of 609 children in the control group, 59 (9.6%) developed pneumonia (odds ratio (OR) 0.35; 95% confidence interval (0.12 to 1.01). The one trial that showed an increase in the rate of pneumonia with antibiotics was conducted in 1942 and compared oral sulfathiazole with symptomatic treatment. If the results of this trial are removed from the meta-analysis, there is a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of pneumonia in children receiving antibiotics (OR 0.26; 95% CI 0.12 to 0.60). The incidence of other complications was significantly lower in children receiving antibiotics: purulent otitis media (OR 0.34; 95% CI 0.16 to 0.73) and tonsillitis (OR 0.08; 95% CI 0.01 to 0.72). There was no difference in the incidence of conjunctivitis (OR 0.39; 95% CI 0.15 to 1.0), diarrhea (OR 0.53; 95% CI 0.23 to 1.22) or croup (OR 0.16; 95% CI 0.01 to 4.06). No major adverse effects attributable to antibiotics were reported. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The studies reviewed were of poor quality and used older antibiotics. This review suggests a beneficial effect of antibiotics in preventing complications such as pneumonia, purulent otitis media and tonsillitis in children with measles. On the basis of this review, it is not possible to recommend definitive guidelines on the type of antibiotic, duration or the day of initiation. There is a need for more evidence from high-quality RCTs to answer these questions.

Page last updated: 2014-11-30

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