- Researchers at the University of Southampton found that amoxicillin provided no benefit
- If the medicine was given to the children with chest infection, the symptoms cleared in five days.
- But those who didn’t get antibiotics found that they were gone in six days.
A study today claims that children with chest infections are ‘unlikely’ to benefit from a commonly used antibiotic.
Researchers at the University of Southampton say doctors should avoid giving amoxicillin to sick youth.
Doctors should only prescribe a drug branded as Amoxil if they suspect a child has pneumonia, academics ruled.
The prescription-only drug was tested in 432 children with chest infections. All the youths are in the age group of 6 months to 12 years.
For children who received the drug, their symptoms cleared in an average of five days. For comparison, young people given a placebo remained ill for six days.
Researchers found that amoxicillin should not be given to children with chest infections, but should still be given to people with pneumonia (image of drug)
Everything you need to know about Amoxil
Amoxicillin is an antibiotic commonly used to treat chest and ear infections in children.
But it is also used to treat a number of bacterial infections, including chest infections, dental abscesses, and urinary tract infections in adults.
In the UK it is only available on prescription. It is named Amoxil.
It is available as a tablet at about 12 pence each, or as a liquid that can be drunk or given as an injection.
The usual dosage is between 250 and 500mg, and the drug should be taken three times a day.
The most common side effects are nausea and diarrhea.
Study – Published in the Lancet – examined the effects of medication among children attending GP surgery with chest infections in England and Wales between 2016 and 2020.
Half were given amoxicillin and half were given a placebo.
The experts tracked the children to measure the duration of their illness, and found it was similar between the two groups.
The researchers decided that amoxicillin does not provide a ‘clinically significant benefit’ for children with uncomplicated chest infections.
He said: ‘Amoxicillin for uncomplicated chest infections in children is unlikely to be clinically effective either overall or for the major subgroups in which antibiotics are most commonly prescribed.
‘Unless pneumonia is suspected, physicians should give safety-net advice, but should not prescribe antibiotics for most children with chest infections.’
Professor Paul Little, lead author of the study, said: ‘Amoxicillin is given to children for chest infections where the doctor does not think the child has pneumonia, it does not get better quickly.
‘In fact, in children who are not suspected of having pneumonia, using amoxicillin to treat a chest infection is unlikely to help and may be harmful.’
Co-author Professor Alastair Hay, from the University of Bristol, said: ‘Our results suggest that unless pneumonia is suspected, clinicians should provide “safety-net” advice – such as specifying which disease course is expected. Expect and when it will be necessary to present again – but do not prescribe antibiotics for most children with chest infections.’
Overuse of antibiotics is fueling a superbug crisis because it causes bacteria to mutate and become resistant to drugs.
GPs have been ordered repeatedly to reduce the number of prescriptions they give because many antibiotics are useless against increasingly resistant germs.
Antibiotics are only effective when used to treat bacterial infections – unlike viruses that cause COVID.