BACKGROUND:

In children, antibiotics as well as asthma drugs are frequently prescribed. We investigated the effects of the codispensing of antibiotics and asthma drugs to children.

METHODS:

Using a health insurance database, we examined dispensing and codispensing of antibiotics and asthma drugs for the period of a 1 year in 892 841 Belgian children aged <18 years.

RESULTS:

For a 1-year period, an antibiotic was dispensed to 44.21% of children: 73.05% aged <3 years; 49.62% aged 3 to 7 years; and 34.21% aged 8 to <18 years. An asthma drug was dispensed to 16.04% of children: 44.81% aged <3 years; 17.90% aged 3 to 7 years; and 7.64% aged 8 to <18 years. Overall, an antibiotic was dispensed without an asthma drug to 38.62% of children versus with an asthma drug to 73.50% of children (P < .0001). More frequent dispensing of antibiotics to children who received an asthma drug (odds ratio: 1.90; 95% confidence interval: 1.89–1.91) occurred in all age categories (P < .0001). In 35.64% of children with an asthma drug dispensed, an antibiotic was dispensed on the same day.

CONCLUSIONS:

In all age groups, dispensing of antibiotics is more likely in children who have an asthma drug dispensed in the same year. In all age groups, codispensing of antibiotics and asthma drugs is a common practice. Efforts to decrease antibiotic use in children could be improved by focusing on children who are being treated with asthma drugs.

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