Antibiotic prescriptions for children with lower respiratory tract infections fell from 2014 to 2020, but misuse was still an issue

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Aim: We evaluated main trends in antibiotic prescriptions for children with lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) by Terveystalo, Finland's largest private healthcare company. Methods: The study comprised of 89,359 children aged 0–17 years (57.2% boys) who visited Terveystalo primary care clinics from 2014 to 2020 with LRTI. The data were assessed by age, study year, location, the doctor's speciality and whether the diagnosis was bronchitis or community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). Results: There were gradual decreases in overall antibiotic prescription rates during the study period (37.0% in 2014 vs. 20.1% in 2020) and in prescribed macrolides (16.8% vs. 7.5%). Altogether, 31.3% of 72,737 children with bronchitis and 22.5% of those 16,622 with CAP-received antibiotics. Macrolides were the most frequently prescribed antibiotics for bronchitis, at more than 40%, without any substantial relative decrease during the study. Costs of antibiotics increased from 2014 to 2016 and then decreased in line with the reduction in prescriptions. However, there was still a marked overuse of antibiotics, especially macrolides, for children with bronchitis. The relative use of amoxicillin for CAP increased from 41.4% to 65.4% between 2016 and 2020, in line with current guidelines. Conclusion: Despite an overall reduction in prescribed antibiotics, some antibiotics were still overused, particularly macrolides for bronchitis.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • antibiotics
  • bronchitis
  • community-acquired pneumonia
  • lower respiratory tract infections
  • macrolides

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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