Childhood Mortality after Mass Distribution of Azithromycin: A Secondary Analysis of the PRET Cluster-randomized Trial in Niger

Kieran S. O'Brien, Sun Y. Cotter, Abdou Amza, Boubacar Kadri, Beido Nassirou, Nicole E. Stoller, Zhaoxia Zhou, Sheila K. West, Robin L. Bailey, Jeremy D. Keenan, Travis C. Porco, Thomas M. Lietman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Mass distributions of azithromycin for trachoma have been associated with secondary benefits, including reductions in child mortality. Methods: In the Partnership for the Rapid Elimination of Trachoma cluster-randomized trial in Niger, 24 communities were randomized to annual treatment of everyone and 24 communities were randomized to biannual treatment of children under 12 for 3 years (clinicaltrials.gov, NCT00792922). Treatment was a single dose of directly observed oral azithromycin (20 mg/kg up to 1 g in adults). Vital status was assessed during annual census and monitoring visits. In this prespecified secondary analysis, we compared the mortality rate among children 6 months to less than 5 years of age by treatment arm using negative binomial regression. Results: Among children 6 months to less than 5 years of age, 404 deaths occurred during the study period. The mortality rate was 35.6 deaths per 1000 person-years (231 deaths, 95% CI: 30.9-40.9) in the annual arm and 29.0 deaths per 1000 person-years (173 deaths, 95% CI: 24.8-33.8) in the biannual arm. The mortality rate ratio comparing children in the biannual arm to the annual arm was 0.81 (95% CI: 0.66-1.00, P = 0.07; primary outcome). The mortality rate ratio comparing children who died from infectious causes in the biannual arm to the annual arm was 0.73 (95% CI: 0.57-0.94; P = 0.02). No adverse events were reported. Conclusions: This secondary analysis of a cluster-randomized trial found a nonsignificant 19% decrease in mortality among children 6 months to less than 5 years of age who received biannual azithromycin compared with children who received annual azithromycin. This study was conducted in a high mortality, trachoma-endemic area; thus, results may be specific to this environment only. In addition, the trial was neither designed nor powered to detect a mortality effect, and we cannot rule out the possibility that mortality differences resulted from bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1082-1086
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Volume37
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

Keywords

  • azithromycin
  • cluster-randomized trial
  • mass drug administration
  • mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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