Two studies this week in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene are addressing some of the questions raised by a study that has linked mass distribution of an antibiotic to African preschool children to reduced childhood mortality. But the answers remain elusive.

The studies are offshoots of the MORDOR (Macrolides Oraux pour Réduire les Décès avec un Oeil sur la Résistance) trial, a large randomized clinical trial that found that twice-a-year doses of azithromycin over 2 years to healthy children under the age of 5 was associated with a 14% reduction in childhood mortality in rural communities in Niger, Tanzania, and Malawi when compared with communities in which children received a placebo.

Credit: iStock, Fahroni

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