Doctors treating patient

Landmark chest infection trial launches in the UK

A new “landmark” clinical trial has launched in the UK investigating whether long-term antibiotic treatment can reduce the impact that chest infections have on children with neurological impairments.

The prophylactic antibiotics to prevent chest infections in children with neurological impairment trial (PARROT) is being funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research and is a joint venture by the UK and Australia, ultimately being led by researchers from the University of Liverpool and Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

Paul McNamara, a respiratory paediatrician based at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Professor in Child Health at the University of Liverpool is the Chief Investigator of the study.

Background of the trial is summarised as: “There are large numbers of children with neurological impairment (NI) caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy. Many are prone to chest infections which can lead to long stays in hospital, additional impairment and even premature death.

“Despite the suffering caused to children and their families by these severe infections and the high cost to health services, there is very little information on how best to prevent them. Some doctors prescribe long-term antibiotics but we don't really know whether this treatment makes any difference to the numbers of chest infections children suffer from, or whether these antibiotics can cause long term harm.

“This study aims to find out whether 12-month's treatment with an antibiotic called azithromycin reduces how often children with NI have to stay in hospital with chest infections.”

This trial is the largest ever involving this group of children, with the researchers aiming to recruit around 500 children and young people aged three to 17-years-old with neurological impairments, who are at risk of further chest infections.

Said participants will be split into two groups – one receiving an antibiotic called azithromycin whilst the other control group will be given a placebo. Each participant will take part in the trial for a maximum of 20 months.

The researchers are seeking to investigate whether a 12-month treatment with azithromycin affects the number of hospital admissions, the rate and treatment of infections, GP and A&E visits, prescriptions, and the quality of life of both parent and child.

Follow-up assessments will be conducted remotely in order to make things easier for the families, allowing them to complete study questionnaires at home and collect respiratory swabs themselves.

More information on the PARROT trial is available here.

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