Comparison of the effectiveness of penicillin and broad-spectrum β-lactam antibiotics in the treatment of community-acquired pneumonia in children
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Department of Pediatrics, University Medical Centre, Maribor, Slovenia
Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia
Section of Dental Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Submission date: 2020-04-05
Final revision date: 2020-07-05
Acceptance date: 2020-07-16
Online publication date: 2020-08-20
Bacterial community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in children is caused mostly by Streptococcus pneumoniae. The resistance of pneumococci to penicillin is increasing. However, most guidelines still prefer treatment with narrow-spectrum antibiotics. Therefore, we compared the effect of intravenous treatment with penicillin and broad-spectrum β-lactam antibiotics in children with CAP. The objective of our study was to assess the eligibility of treatment of bacterial CAP with intravenous penicillin.

Material and methods:
We performed a prospective study and included 136 children hospitalised because of bacterial CAP. Patients were treated intravenously with either penicillin G or broad-spectrum β-lactam antibiotic monotherapy. Lung ultrasound and blood tests were performed at admission and after 2 days of treatment. The time interval from the application of antibiotics to permanent defervescence was recorded.

Eighty-seven (64.0%) patients were treated with penicillin G, and 49 (36.0%) were treated with broad-spectrum β-lactam antibiotics. The median time to persistent defervescence was 5 h in the penicillin group and 8 h in the broad-spectrum group (p = 0.18). There were no significant differences between the treatment regimens regarding the effect on the consolidation sizes or C-reactive protein levels. However, the decrease in the white blood cell count was marginally greater in the penicillin treatment group (p = 0.05).

We have shown that penicillin is as effective as broad-spectrum antibiotics in the treatment of bacterial CAP in children. Although the resistance of pneumococci to antibiotics is increasing, clinicians should still use penicillin and other narrow-spectrum β-lactam antibiotics in the treatment of bacterial CAP in children.