Feature Article

Childhood infections: diagnosis and management in general practice

Adam Bartlett, Brendan McMullan



Infections are common in childhood, mostly self-limited and usually diagnosed clinically. A delayed antibiotic strategy or short-course empirical antibiotic therapy is often appropriate for the infections that are more frequently encountered. Possible complications and potential transmission should be considered.

Key Points

  • Childhood infections often have characteristic features that enable diagnosis and management based on history and examination.
  • Laboratory confirmation is important when there is potential for complications in the patient or susceptible contacts, or an unusual presentation.
  • Close monitoring of clinical progress guides investigation and management, and may limit complications.
  • Young infants may have atypical presentations and more severe disease.
  • Rational antibiotic use is crucial to maximising patient benefit, avoiding side effects and minimising antibiotic resistance.

    Picture credit: © Christy Krames