Antibiotics Effective in Children With Chronic Wet Cough

Child coughing sick in bed
Child coughing sick in bed
Antibiotics were helpful in curing chronic wet cough in children.

Antibiotics could be an effective treatment for children with chronic wet cough lasting more than 4 weeks, according to a study published in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

The analysis included a total of 190 children from 3 separate randomized control trials. Trial inclusion criteria were based on those that compared antibiotic treatment with a placebo. Criteria for patient selection included a wet cough lasting more than 4 weeks without bronchiectasis or other underlying respiratory conditions. The children’s ages ranged from 21 months to 6 years. Researchers relied on common analysis methods recommended by Cochrane.

Analysis of the 3 trials demonstrated that antibiotics were helpful in curing cough in children compared with placebo (odds ratio, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.07-0.31, intention-to-treat analysis). This translated to a cure rate of 1 child cured for every 3 children treated (95% CI, 2-4). (95% CI, 2-4). Adverse events were not significantly higher in the antibiotic groups. Illness progression was also significantly lower in the antibiotic groups than the control groups (odds ratio 1.88; 95% CI, 0.62-5.69).

The researchers concluded that “antibiotics are effective in treating children with chronic wet cough.” There was also no definitive evidence that antibiotics had more side effects than other treatments, and long-term results could not be assessed.

Related Articles


Marchant JM, Petsky HL, Morris PS, Chang AB. Antibiotics for prolonged wet cough in children [published July31, 2018] Cochrane Database Syst Rev. doi:10.1002/146518558.CD004822.pub3