European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 172, Issue 6, pp 787–795

Systemic antibiotic use among children and adolescents in Germany: a population-based study

Original Article


The aim of the study was to comprehensively describe antibiotic use among children and young adolescents in Germany. Outpatient prescriptions of systemic antibiotics to children (<15 years) were analysed using data from four German statutory health insurances for the years 2004 to 2006. Annual prevalence of antibiotic prescriptions was determined using the average number of insured children during the respective year as reference population. Annual antibiotic prescription rates were calculated per 1,000 person years. Both figures were stratified by age (0–4, 5–9 and 10–14 years) and sex. Frequent indications for prescribing were analysed. Annual prevalence of antibiotic prescriptions rose from 35.68 % [95 % confidence intervals (CI), 35.62–35.75] in 2004 to 37.79 % [95 % CI, 37.72–37.86] in 2006. Prescription rates slightly increased by 6.01 % from 668.54 [95 % CI, 667.34–669.72] antibiotic prescriptions per 1,000 person years in 2004 to 708.71 [95 % CI, 707.47–709.95] in 2006. In 2006, prescriptions of broad-spectrum penicillins (25.09 %), second-generation cephalosporins (18.11 %) and narrow-spectrum penicillins (16.45 %) were most frequent. The most common indication for antibiotic prescribing was tonsillitis followed by bronchitis, otitis media, acute upper respiratory infections and scarlet fever. Conclusion: In contrast to other northern European countries, paediatric prescription rates are high in Germany. This and the frequent prescribing of broad spectrum agents for the treatment of mostly viral self-limiting conditions indicate limited adherence to evidence-based practice guidelines in antibiotic prescribing in the German outpatient setting.


Drug utilisation study Antibiotic resistance Paediatric Prescription rate Cephalosporins Macrolides Penicillins 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Epidemiology and Prevention Research (BIPS)BremenGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of Human and Health SciencesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany

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