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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014, Article ID 243801, 17 pages
Research Article

Antibiotic Use in Children with Acute Respiratory or Ear Infections: Prospective Observational Comparison of Anthroposophic and Conventional Treatment under Routine Primary Care Conditions

1Institute for Applied Epistemology and Medical Methodology, University of Witten-Herdecke, Zechenweg 6, 79111 Freiburg, Germany
2Paediatric Practice, Quellengasse 42, 8010 Graz, Austria
3Integrative Medicine Institute, Overton Street, Portland, OR 97210, USA
4University of Applied Sciences Leiden, Zernikedreef 11, 2333 CK Leiden, The Netherlands
5Louis Bolk Instituut, Hoofdstraat 24, 3972 LA Driebergen-Rijsenburg, The Netherlands

Received 7 July 2014; Revised 21 October 2014; Accepted 21 October 2014; Published 18 November 2014

Academic Editor: Jairo K. Bastos

Copyright © 2014 Harald J. Hamre et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Children with acute respiratory or ear infections (RTI/OM) are often unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a major public health problem and antibiotic prescription for RTI/OM should be reduced. Anthroposophic treatment of RTI/OM includes anthroposophic medications, nonmedication therapy and if necessary also antibiotics. This secondary analysis from an observational study comprised 529 children <18 years from Europe (AT, DE, NL, and UK) or USA, whose caregivers had chosen to consult physicians offering anthroposophic (A-) or conventional (C-) treatment for RTI/OM. During the 28-day follow-up antibiotics were prescribed to 5.5% of A-patients and 25.6% of C-patients (); unadjusted odds ratio for nonprescription in A- versus C-patients 6.58 (95%-CI 3.45–12.56); after adjustment for demographics and morbidity 6.33 (3.17–12.64). Antibiotic prescription rates in recent observational studies with similar patients in similar settings, ranged from 31.0% to 84.1%. Compared to C-patients, A-patients also had much lower use of analgesics, somewhat quicker symptom resolution, and higher caregiver satisfaction. Adverse drug reactions were infrequent (2.3% in both groups) and not serious. Limitation was that results apply to children of caregivers who consult A-physicians. One cannot infer to what extent antibiotics might be avoided in children who usually receive C-treatment, if they were offered A-treatment.