Comparison of the Respiratory Resistomes and Microbiota in Children Receiving Short versus Standard Course Treatment for Community-Acquired Pneumonia

Pediatric community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is often treated with 10 days of antibiotics. Shorter treatment strategies may be effective and lead to less resistance. The impact of duration of treatment on the respiratory microbiome is unknown.


Data are from children (n = 171), ages 6 to 71 months, enrolled in the SCOUT-CAP trial (NCT02891915). Children with CAP were randomized to a short (5 days) versus standard (10 days) beta-lactam treatment strategy. Throat swabs were collected at enrollment and the end of the study and used for shotgun metagenomic sequencing. The number of beta-lactam and multidrug efflux resistance genes per prokaryotic cell (RGPC) was significantly lower in children receiving the short compared to standard treatment strategy at the end of the study (Wilcoxon rank sum test, P < 0.05 for each).


Wilcoxon effect sizes were small for beta-lactam (r: 0.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.01 to 0.29) and medium for multidrug efflux RGPC (r: 0.23; 95% CI, 0.09 to 0.37). Analyses comparing the resistome at the beginning and end of the trial indicated that in contrast to the standard strategy group, the resistome significantly differed in children receiving the short course strategy. Relative abundances of commensals such as Neisseria subflava were higher in children receiving the standard strategy, and Prevotella species and Veillonella parvula were higher in children receiving the short course strategy.


We conclude that children receiving 5 days of beta-lactam therapy for CAP had a significantly lower abundance of antibiotic resistance determinants than those receiving standard 10-day treatment. These data provide an additional rationale for reductions in antibiotic use when feasible.



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Published: 24 March 2022

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