Very Low Risk of Cartilage Injury in Kids Taking Levofloxacin

Some pediatricians have been hesitant to prescribe fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as levofloxacin for children because animal studies have found a risk of cartilage injury. A 5-year follow-up safety study of levofloxacin published recently in Pediatrics compared the safety of levofloxacin with a comparator antibiotic in more than 200 children. The number of musculoskeletal adverse events that were “possibly” related to the drugs was very low and essentially the same in both groups. This led the researchers to conclude that “the risks of cartilage injury with levofloxacin appear to be uncommon, are clinically undetectable during 5 years, or are reversible.” In a NEJM Journal Watch commentary on the study, Deborah Lehman, MD said these findings provide at most “a lack of endorsement of the fluoroquinolone-associated musculoskeletal problems seen in preclinical studies.” She adds that the study was limited by the fact that only half of the patients completed the planned 5-year follow up.

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