A randomized controlled trial conducted by American physicians showed that halving the course of antibiotics in the treatment of community-acquired pneumonia in children does not affect the effectiveness of therapy. At the same time, the resistance of bacteria to drugs increases with a long course of antibiotics.

A group of scientists led by Miranda Pettigrew, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health, conducted a study on the effect of beta-lactam antibiotics (penicillins, cephalosporins, and others) on the formation of resistance in bacteria.

171 children aged from six months to six years with community-acquired pneumonia were selected for the study. The children were randomly assigned to two groups receiving different treatments. Half of the children were prescribed a five-day course of antibiotics, and the second group was treated with the same drug, but for 10 days. The results showed the same efficacy of therapy in both groups.

In addition, epidemiologists studied how the duration of treatment affected the formation of resistance in bacteria. Scientists conducted metagenomic DNA sequencing of throat swabs and stool samples of children. To assess the changes, biomaterial sampling was carried out twice: immediately after diagnosis and a few weeks after recovery.

Sequencing showed that children who underwent a short course of treatment had fewer resistance genes in smears than the second group. At the same time, as scientists note, with long-term therapy in the microbiome, the resistance of bacteria increased not only to beta-lactam, which was used to treat children, but also to other antibiotics.

“This means that you can develop resistance not only to the drug that you are taking,” Pettigrew notes. “Antibiotics don’t just target the pathogens we’re trying to treat. They can affect the microbiota in general.”

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a serious problem facing the whole world. It leads to a decrease in the effectiveness of the methods of treatment used and can affect the time of hospitalization and increase mortality.

Hightek previously wrote that scientists from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington found that antibiotic resistance has become the leading cause of death in the world.