Objectives This study was designed to analyse factors potentially influencing children's return visits to physicians for symptoms of acute otitis media (AOM) within 14 days after being diagnosed with nasopharyngitis (NP), and the impact of recent antibiotic use.
Design A controlled population-based pharmaco-epidemiological trial in 3- to 6-year-old children conducted from January to May 2000.
Setting Three different geographical regions in France.
Participants Among 2507 eligible children, 2456 could be analysed and 505 children had 634 office-based physician visits (OBPV) for NP symptoms.
Interventions The statistical associations between antibiotics prescribed for NP and an OBPV for AOM within 14 days in a population-based study were analysed along with risk factors of AOM.
Main outcomes measure Clinical events and antibiotic use.
Results During the 2 weeks following physician-diagnosed NP, antibiotic use, especially a beta-lactam, significantly decreased the risk of OBPV for AOM in children (odds ratio = 0.2; 95% confidence interval = 0.09–0.7; P = 0.002).
Conclusion Antibiotics prescribed to children for NP seem to protect during the following 2 weeks against the risk of OBPV for AOM. It remains to be determined whether a subgroup at high risk of developing AOM after a viral infection exists and what might be the best strategy to adopt for NP in a national programme of optimal antibiotic use.