A Cochrane Systematic Review of available research suggests that children with non-severe pneumonia may be better off with a three-day antibiotic regimen.
"This short duration treatment is cheaper to give, is more likely to be taken by the child and is less likely to trigger antimicrobial resistance than longer-duration regimens," says lead researcher Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta who heads the department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan.
The researchers behind the study say that their findings attain significance particularly for poor societies, where a shorter dose would be much easier for people to afford, acquire and comply with.
Three studies on 5,763 children aged five or below were reviewed during the study.
Some of the children in the three trials were treated with antibiotics for three days, while the rest for five days.
The researchers ensured that any other differences between the children were kept to a minimum.
"Pneumonia accounts for the highest number of deaths in children under five in low income countries, so it is important to find the most efficient way of treating it," says co-researcher Dr Batool Haider.
The researchers now plan to review more well-controlled randomised studies of different durations, which may make their conclusions stronger.
The team will also allow more severe forms of pneumonia to be studied for optimal treatment strategies.