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VOLUME 50 | NUMBER 3 | JUNE 2015

Narrow- and Broad-Spectrum Antibiotic Use among U.S. Children

Keywords: Children; antibiotics; narrow- and broad-spectrum; multinomial choice model

Objectives: To provide updated estimates of narrow- and broad-spectrum antibiotic use among U.S. children.

Data Sources: Linked nationally representative data from the 2004–2010 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component and the 2000 Decennial Census.

Study Design: Relationships between individual-, family-, and community-level characteristics and the use of antibiotics overall and in the treatment of respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are examined using multinomial choice models.

Principal Findings: More than one quarter (27.3 percent) of children used at least one antibiotic each year with 12.8 percent using broad-spectrum and 18.5 percent using narrow-spectrum antibiotics. Among children with use, more than two-thirds (68.6 percent) used antibiotics to treat RTIs. Multivariate models revealed many differences across groups in antibiotic use, overall and in the treatment of RTIs. Differential use was associated with a broad range of factors related to need (e.g., age, health status), resources (e.g., insurance status, parental income, and education), race-ethnicity, and Census region.

Conclusions: Despite encouraging reports regarding the declining use of antibiotics, large differences in use associated with resources, race-ethnicity, and Census regions suggest a need for further improvement in the judicious and appropriate prescribing of antibiotics for U.S. children.

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