Objective: We examined the impact of selective decontamination of the digestive tract on morbidity and mortality in critically ill children.
Data Sources: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials, and previous meta-analyses.
Study Selection: We included all randomized controlled trials comparing administration of enteral antimicrobials in selective decontamination of the digestive tract with or without a parenteral component with placebo or standard therapy used in the controls.
Data Extraction: The primary end point was the number of acquired pneumonias. Secondary end points were number of infections and overall mortality. Odds ratios were pooled with the random effect model.
Data Synthesis: Four randomized controlled trials including 335 patients were identified. Pneumonia was diagnosed in five of 170 patients (2.9%) for selective decontamination of the digestive tract and 16 of 165 patients (9.7%) for controls (odds ratio 0.31; 95% confidence interval 0.11–0.87; p = .027). Overall mortality for selective decontamination of the digestive tract was 13 of 170 (7.6%) vs. control, 11 of 165 (6.7%) (odds ratio 1.18; 95% confidence interval 0.50–2.76; p = .70). In three studies (n = 109), infection occurred in ten of 54 (18.5%) patients on selective decontamination of the digestive tract and 24 of 55 (43.6%) in the controls (odds ratio 0.34; 95% confidence interval 0.05–2.18; p = .25).
Conclusions: In the four available pediatric randomized controlled trials, selective decontamination of the digestive tract significantly reduced the number of children who developed pneumonia.