Is short-course antibiotic therapy (5 days of high-dose amoxicillin) inferior to standard care (10 days of high-dose amoxicillin) for the treatment of children aged 6 months to 10 years diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia in an outpatient setting?
In this 2-center, blinded randomized clinical trial, children treated with short-course antibiotic therapy had comparable rates of clinical cure at 14 to 21 days after enrollment compared with standard care (85.7% vs 84.1%).
Results of this study suggest that short-course therapy for pediatric community-acquired pneumonia not requiring hospitalization offers more benefit than harm and should be considered for inclusion in treatment guidelines.
Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a common occurrence in childhood; consequently, evidence-based recommendations for its treatment are required.
To determine whether 5 days of high-dose amoxicillin for CAP was associated with noninferior rates of clinical cure compared with 10 days of high-dose amoxicillin.
Design, Setting, and Participants
The SAFER (Short-Course Antimicrobial Therapy for Pediatric Respiratory Infections) study was a 2-center, parallel-group, noninferiority randomized clinical trial consisting of a single-center pilot study from December 1, 2012, to March 31, 2014, and the follow-up main study from August 1, 2016, to December 31, 2019 at the emergency departments of McMaster Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Research staff, participants, and outcome assessors were blinded to treatment allocation. Eligible children were aged 6 months to 10 years and had fever within 48 hours, respiratory symptoms, chest radiography findings consistent with pneumonia as per the emergency department physician, and a primary diagnosis of pneumonia. Children were excluded if they required hospitalization, had comorbidities that would predispose them to severe disease and/or pneumonia of unusual origin, or had previous β-lactam antibiotic therapy. Data were analyzed from March 1 to July 8, 2020.
Five days of high-dose amoxicillin therapy followed by 5 days of placebo (intervention group) vs 5 days of high-dose amoxicillin followed by a different formulation of 5 days of high-dose amoxicillin (control group).
Main Outcomes and Measures
Clinical cure at 14 to 21 days.
Among the 281 participants, the median age was 2.6 (interquartile range, 1.6-4.9) years (160 boys [57.7%] of 279 with sex listed). Clinical cure was observed in 101 of 114 children (88.6%) in the intervention group and in 99 of 109 (90.8%) in the control group in per-protocol analysis (risk difference, −0.016; 97.5% confidence limit, −0.087). Clinical cure at 14 to 21 days was observed in 108 of 126 (85.7%) in the intervention group and in 106 of 126 (84.1%) in the control group in the intention-to-treat analysis (risk difference, 0.023; 97.5% confidence limit, −0.061).
Conclusions and Relevance
Short-course antibiotic therapy appeared to be comparable to standard care for the treatment of previously healthy children with CAP not requiring hospitalization. Clinical practice guidelines should consider recommending 5 days of amoxicillin for pediatric pneumonia management in accordance with antimicrobial stewardship principles.
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02380352
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Pernica JM, Harman S, Kam AJ, et al. Short-Course Antimicrobial Therapy for Pediatric Community-Acquired Pneumonia: The SAFER Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatr. 2021;175(5):475–482. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.6735
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