Antibiotic use for Australian Aboriginal children in three remote Northern Territory communities

Timothy Howarth, Raelene Brunette, Tanya Davies, Ross Andrews, Bhavini Patel, Steven Tong, Federica Barzi, Therese Kearns

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Objective: To describe antibiotic prescription rates for Australian Aboriginal children aged <2 years living in three remote Northern Territory communities.

Design: A retrospective cohort study using electronic health records.

Setting: Three primary health care centres located in the Katherine East region.

Participants: Consent was obtained from 149 mothers to extract data from 196 child records. There were 124 children born between January 2010 and July 2014 who resided in one of the three chosen communities and had electronic health records for their first two years of life.

Main outcome measures: Antibiotic prescription rates, factors associated with antibiotic prescription and factors associated with appropriate antibiotic prescription.

Results: There were 5,675 Primary Health Care (PHC) encounters for 124 children (median 41, IQR 25.5, 64). Of the 5,675 PHC encounters, 1,542 (27%) recorded at least one infection (total 1,777) and 1,330 (23%) had at least one antibiotic prescription recorded (total 1,468). Children had a median five (IQR 2, 9) prescriptions in both their first and second year of life, with a prescription rate of 5.99/person year (95% CI 5.35, 6.63). Acute otitis media was the most common infection (683 records, 38%) and Amoxycillin was the most commonly prescribed antibiotic (797 prescriptions, 54%). Of the 1,468 recorded prescriptions, 398 (27%) had no infection recorded and 116 (8%) with an infection recorded were not aligned with local treatment guidelines.

Conclusion: Prescription rates for Australian Aboriginal children in these communities are significantly higher than that reported nationally for non-Aboriginal Australians. Prescriptions predominantly aligned with treatment guidelines in this setting where there is a high burden of infectious disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2020


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