Antibiotic Exposure in Infants – Research Review

Antibiotic Exposure in Infants – Research Review

Antibiotic exposure is a topic that is familiar to Nurses. In a recent edition of Paediatric – Research review, you can read about the Prevalence and determinants of antibiotic exposure in infants. This review is related to a study conducted in Australia.

Summary of the Review:

‘This analysis of data from the Barwon Infant Study examined antibiotic exposure in Australian infants during the first year of life. The Barwon Infant Study is a
birth cohort study of 1074 infants in Victoria, Australia. Longitudinal data on infection and medication were collected during the first year by parental questionnaire and from general practitioner and hospital records; 660 infants with complete serial data were included in this analysis. Mean antibiotic prescription rate was 0.92 prescriptions per person-year, with the highest rates in those aged <1month (1.50 per person-year). 50% of infants were exposed to at least one antibiotic in their first year of life.

Increasing number of siblings was associated with increased antibiotic exposure. The most frequently prescribed antibiotics were extended-spectrum penicillin (52.6%) and cephalosporins (12.0%). Approximately 20% of antibiotics were prescribed for respiratory tract infections and bronchiolitis.


The Barwon region of Victoria is a research hub with several studies addressing important general paediatric clinical questions. The Barwon Infant Study
is a birth cohort examining how microbial exposure is associated with immune development and non-communicable disease. The dataset included the children whose parents had completed all 5 questionnaires up to 12 months of age, approximately 2 out of every 3 enrolled participants.

On average, there were 0.9 prescriptions of antibiotics per child per year, or approximately 5 days of antibiotics per infant year. A comparison with other high-income countries suggested Australian practitioners were more likely to prescribe antibiotics than many of their European counterparts.

Children most likely to be prescribed antibiotics were neonates, infants with siblings, and infants with unemployed fathers. The most common indications for prescriptions were upper and then lower respiratory tract infections. This study is further evidence to suggest antibiotics are over-prescribed, although it is impossible with these methods to conclusively determine at the individual case level whether an antibiotic prescription was appropriate or not.’

Reference: J Paediatr Child Health 2017;53(10):942-49 Click here>>

Authors: Anderson H et al.

Research Review Australia provides clinical research updates.  Covering top 10 research studies with commentary by well-known Australian experts. They are a great tool to help nurses keep up to date. Reviews are sent by email and cost nothing to subscribe. Subscribe online at or send an email to Trish (our database administrator) [email protected]” To download your copy login into your Research Review account. You can register for an account at or send an email to Trish (our database administrator) [email protected]

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