Despite lack of benefit, antibiotics are overused in management of asthma exacerbation in children. In this study, data from a single children's hospital were analyzed to identify factors and outcomes associated with antibiotic use in children hospitalized with asthma.


The study population was identified by using administrative data from 2012 to 2015, with subsequent verification of asthma. We analyzed factors associated with antibiotic use (demographic, seasonal, clinical) and outcome (length of stay [LOS]) with respect to: 1) disposition to pediatric floor (PF) or pediatric intensive care unit (PICU); and 2) evidence of coexisting bacterial infection and/or fever. Statistical analysis included univariate and controlled regression models. Data are presented as median and IQR for continuous variables and OR and regression coefficient (β) with 95% CIs for regression analyses.


Of 600 patients, 28.8% were admitted to PICU, 14.8% had verified bacterial infection, and 53.8% received antibiotic, mainly azithromycin. Nearly all PICU patients were treated with antibiotic, irrespective of coexisting bacterial infection or fever. Among PF patients, nearly 30% without bacterial infection or fever and 40% with fever alone received antimicrobials. Overall risk for antibiotic treatment was associated with older age, female sex, desaturation events, oxygen supplementation, and PICU admission. Additionally, antibiotic treatment was associated with 13- to 19-hour increased LOS for PF patients without bacterial infection and/or fever.


Almost half of pediatric patients admitted with asthma exacerbation received antibiotic therapy with no clear indication, which was associated with prolonged LOS.

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