Two doses a year of an antibiotic can sharply cut death rates among infants in poor countries, perhaps by as much as 25 percent among the very young, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Their large study — of nearly 200,000 children in three African countries — raises the exciting possibility that deploying antibiotics as doctors do vaccines could rapidly reduce deaths among newborns and infants. Death rates in this age group have remained stubbornly high in poor countries even as deaths among all children under age 5 have dropped by half, thanks to vaccines against childhood diseases.

As a result of the study, the World Health Organization is considering whether to recommend routinely giving antibiotics to newborns. ….more