Objective This systematic review commissioned by WHO aimed to synthesise evidence from current literature on the effects of systematically given, routine use of antibiotics for infants under 6 months of age with growth failure/faltering. Settings Low-income and middle-income countries. Participants The study population was infants less than 6 months of age with growth failure/faltering. Intervention The intervention group was infants who received no antibiotics or antibiotics other than those recommended in 2013 guidelines by WHO to treat childhood severe acute malnutrition. The comparison group was infants who received antibiotics according to the aforementioned guidelines. Primary and secondary outcomes The primary outcome was all-cause mortality, and secondary outcomes: clinical deterioration, antimicrobial resistance, recovery from comorbidity, adverse events, markers of intestinal inflammation, markers of systemic inflammation, hospital-acquired infections and non-response. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach was considered to report the overall evidence quality for an outcome. Results We screened 5137 titles and abstracts and reviewed the full text of 157 studies. None of the studies from the literature search qualified to answer the question for this systematic review. Conclusions There is a paucity of evidence on the routine use of antibiotics for the treatment of malnutrition in infants less than 6 months of age. Future studies with adequate sample sizes are needed to assess the potential risks and benefits of antibiotics in malnourished infants under 6 months of age. PROSPERO registration number CRD42021277073.
- infectious diseases
- public health