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Background and objectivesTreatment guidelines do not recommend antibiotic use for acute respiratory infections (ARI), except for streptococcal pharyngitis/tonsillitis and pneumonia. However, antibiotics are prescribed frequently for children with ARI, often in absence of evidence for bacterial infection. The objectives of this study were 1) to assess the appropriateness of antibiotic prescriptions for mild ARI in paediatric outpatients in relation to available guidelines and detected pathogens, 2) to assess antibiotic use on presentation using questionnaires and detection in urine 3) to assess the carriage rates and proportions of resistant intestinal Enterobacteriaceae before, during and after consultation.Materials and methodsPatients were prospectively enrolled in Children's Hospital 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and diagnoses, prescribed therapy and outcome were recorded on first visit and on follow-up after 7 days. Respiratory bacterial and viral pathogens were detected using molecular assays. Antibiotic use before presentation was assessed using questionnaires and urine HPLC. The impact of antibiotic usage on intestinal Enterobacteriaceae was assessed with semi-quantitative culture on agar with and without antibiotics on presentation and after 7 and 28 days.ResultsA total of 563 patients were enrolled between February 2009 and February 2010. Antibiotics were prescribed for all except 2 of 563 patients. The majority were 2nd and 3rd generation oral cephalosporins and amoxicillin with or without clavulanic acid. Respiratory viruses were detected in respiratory specimens of 72.5% of patients. Antibiotic use was considered inappropriate in 90.1% and 67.5%, based on guidelines and detected pathogens, respectively. On presentation parents reported antibiotic use for 22% of patients, 41% of parents did not know and 37% denied antibiotic use. Among these three groups, six commonly used antibiotics were detected with HPLC in patients' urine in 49%, 40% and 14%, respectively. Temporary selection of 3rd generation cephalosporin resistant intestinal Enterobacteriaceae during antibiotic use was observed, with co-selection of resistance to aminoglycosides and fluoroquinolones.ConclusionsWe report overuse and overprescription of antibiotics for uncomplicated ARI with selection of resistant intestinal Enterobacteriaceae, posing a risk for community transmission and persistence in a setting of a highly granular healthcare system and unrestricted access to antibiotics through private pharmacies.RegistrationThis study was registered at the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trials Number registry under number ISRCTN32862422:

Original publication




Journal article


PloS one

Publication Date





Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


Humans, Enterobacteriaceae, Respiratory Tract Infections, Cephalosporins, Amoxicillin, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid, Severity of Illness Index, Follow-Up Studies, Prospective Studies, Drug Resistance, Bacterial, Child, Child, Preschool, Infant, Outpatients, Vietnam, Female, Male, Drug Prescriptions, Gastrointestinal Microbiome