1.2 Antibiotics dispensing in children, 9 years and under

The Third Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation investigates healthcare use in four clinical areas. Antibiotics dispensing in children are included in Chapter 1, Neonatal and paediatric health. 

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Why is this important?

Much of current antibiotic use is inappropriate, with antibiotics being prescribed for viral illnesses when their use is not indicated. More than 30 million prescriptions for antimicrobials were dispensed to people of all ages in the Australian community in 2015, with no change in this number since 2008. There are harms associated with high use of antibiotics. For example, development of bacterial resistance that means some antibiotics are no longer effective in combating infections. Antimicrobial resistance is known to be increasing in Australia. Other potential harms of high use of antibiotics are now being investigated. Antibiotic use in children is associated with a higher risk of asthma, Crohn’s disease and weight gain, although researchers are still exploring these links.

Maps, graphs and data

Rates by local area

Rates by state and territory

//viz.aihw.gov.au/t/Public/views/SOP_Antibiotics_in_children/Stateandterritory?iframeSizedToWindow=true&:embed=y&:showAppBanner=false&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no&:origin=viz_share_link

Rates by remoteness and SES

//viz.aihw.gov.au/t/Public/views/SOP_Antibiotics_in_children/RemotenessandSES?iframeSizedToWindow=true&:embed=y&:showAppBanner=false&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no&:origin=viz_share_link

Map of rates across Australia

Download the data

Download the data sheet for antibiotics dispensing in children:

About the data

About the data - Antibiotics dispensing in children, 9 years and under

Data are sourced from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) dataset. This dataset includes all prescriptions dispensed under the PBS or the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, including prescriptions that do not receive an Australian Government subsidy. Note that some dispensed medicines may not be used.

The dataset does not include prescriptions dispensed for patients during their admission to public hospitals, discharge prescriptions dispensed from public hospitals in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, direct supply of medicines to remote Aboriginal health services, over-the-counter purchase of medicines, doctor’s bag medicines or private prescriptions.

Rates are based on the number of prescriptions dispensed for systemic antibiotics per 100,000 children aged 0–9 years in 2016–17. Antibiotics used orally, intravenously and intramuscularly are included; topical antibiotics are not included.

The term ‘antibiotics’ is used rather than ‘antimicrobials’ in this data item because other antimicrobials (antifungals, antivirals and antiparasitics) are not included. Note that the repeat analysis of antimicrobial medicines (in Chapter 5, page 239) includes a wider range of antimicrobials, not only antibiotics.

The analysis and maps are based on the residential address of the patient recorded in the PBS prescription claim and not the location of the prescriber or the dispensing pharmacy.

Rates are age and sex standardised to allow comparisons between populations with different age and sex structures.

This analysis was not undertaken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status because this information was not available for the PBS data at the time of publication.

About the Atlas and how to interpret the data visualisations

This document outlines how to interpret the data correctly and explains the limitations of the data prior to using the Atlas:

Data specifications

Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation 2018: Number of PBS/RPBS prescriptions dispensed for antibiotic medicines per 100,000 children aged 9 years and under, 2016-17

Rates by local area

Rates by state and territory

//viz.aihw.gov.au/t/Public/views/SOP_Antibiotics_in_children/Stateandterritory?iframeSizedToWindow=true&:embed=y&:showAppBanner=false&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no&:origin=viz_share_link

Rates by remoteness and SES

//viz.aihw.gov.au/t/Public/views/SOP_Antibiotics_in_children/RemotenessandSES?iframeSizedToWindow=true&:embed=y&:showAppBanner=false&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no&:origin=viz_share_link

Map of rates across Australia

Download the data

Download the data sheet for antibiotics dispensing in children:

About the data

About the data - Antibiotics dispensing in children, 9 years and under

Data are sourced from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) dataset. This dataset includes all prescriptions dispensed under the PBS or the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, including prescriptions that do not receive an Australian Government subsidy. Note that some dispensed medicines may not be used.

The dataset does not include prescriptions dispensed for patients during their admission to public hospitals, discharge prescriptions dispensed from public hospitals in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, direct supply of medicines to remote Aboriginal health services, over-the-counter purchase of medicines, doctor’s bag medicines or private prescriptions.

Rates are based on the number of prescriptions dispensed for systemic antibiotics per 100,000 children aged 0–9 years in 2016–17. Antibiotics used orally, intravenously and intramuscularly are included; topical antibiotics are not included.

The term ‘antibiotics’ is used rather than ‘antimicrobials’ in this data item because other antimicrobials (antifungals, antivirals and antiparasitics) are not included. Note that the repeat analysis of antimicrobial medicines (in Chapter 5, page 239) includes a wider range of antimicrobials, not only antibiotics.

The analysis and maps are based on the residential address of the patient recorded in the PBS prescription claim and not the location of the prescriber or the dispensing pharmacy.

Rates are age and sex standardised to allow comparisons between populations with different age and sex structures.

This analysis was not undertaken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status because this information was not available for the PBS data at the time of publication.

About the Atlas and how to interpret the data visualisations

This document outlines how to interpret the data correctly and explains the limitations of the data prior to using the Atlas:

Data specifications

Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation 2018: Number of PBS/RPBS prescriptions dispensed for antibiotic medicines per 100,000 children aged 9 years and under, 2016-17