In order to evaluate the role of Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydia pneumoniae, we studied 613 children aged 2-14 years who were hospitalized for community-acquired lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs). The patients were enrolled in the study by 21 centers in different regions of Italy from May 1998 through April 1999. Paired serum samples were obtained on admission and after 4-6 weeks to assay the titers of M. pneumoniae and C. pneumoniae antibodies. Nasopharyngeal aspirates for the detection of M. pneumoniae and C. pneumoniae were obtained on admission. Acute M. pneumoniae infections in 210 patients (34.3%) and acute C. pneumoniae infections in 87 (14.1%) were diagnosed. Fifteen of the 18 children with M. pneumoniae and/or C. pneumoniae infections whose treatments were considered clinical failures 4-6 weeks after enrollment had not been treated with macrolides. Our study confirms that M. pneumoniae and/or C. pneumoniae plays a significant role in community-acquired LRTIs in children of all ages and that such infections have a more complicated course when not treated with adequate antimicrobial agents.
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