Duration of Antibiotic Therapy for Bacterial Meningitis in Young Infants: A Systematic Review

Maïte Van Hentenryck, Alan R. Schroeder, Russell J. McCulloh, Christopher D. Stave, Marie E. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Recommendations for parenteral antibiotic therapy duration in abstract bacterial meningitis in young infants are based predominantly on expert consensus. Prolonged durations are generally provided for proven and suspected meningitis and are associated with considerable costs and risks. The objective of the study was to review the literature on the duration of parenteral antibiotic therapy and outcomes of bacterial meningitis in infants <3 months old. METHODS: We searched PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library for publications until May 31, 2021. Eligible studies were published in English and included infants <3 months old with bacterial meningitis for which the route and duration of antibiotic therapy and data on at least 1 outcome (relapse rates, mortality, adverse events, duration of hospitalization, or neurologic sequelae) were reported. RESULTS: Thirty-two studies were included: 1 randomized controlled trial, 25 cohort studies, and 6 case series. The randomized controlled trial found no difference in treatment failure rates between 10 and 14 days of therapy. One cohort study concluded that antibiotic courses >21 days were not associated with improved outcomes as compared with shorter courses. The remaining studies had small sample sizes and/or did not stratify outcomes by therapy duration. Meta-analysis was not possible because of the heterogeneity of the treatments and reported outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Rigorous, prospective clinical trial data are lacking to determine the optimal parenteral antibiotic duration in bacterial meningitis in young infants. Given the associated costs and risks, there is a pressing need for high-quality comparative effectiveness research to further study this question.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022057510
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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