THURSDAY, Nov. 17, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Antibiotics taken orally are as effective -- and doubtless much more welcome -- than intravenous antibiotics for children recovering at home from complex pneumonia, a new study finds.

Youngsters with complex pneumonia typically have to take antibiotics for one to three weeks after they leave the hospital, the researchers noted.

To see if one medication method outperformed the other, the investigators looked at more than 2,100 children treated for complex pneumonia at 36 U.S. hospitals.

Not only were oral antibiotics as effective as IV ones, they also avoided the risk of infection and other complications related to so-called peripherally inserted central venous catheters ("PICC lines"), which are used to administer intravenous antibiotics, the researchers said.

"PICC line complications can be serious, resulting in hospital readmission, additional procedures and more medications, as well as missed work or school," said study lead author Dr. Samir Shah. He's director of hospital medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.

"It's not surprising that children and families would rather not use PICC lines," Shah said in a hospital news release.

"Our findings, which provide compelling evidence to support the use of oral antibiotics for children with complex pneumonia, will contribute to safer care for children across the country," Shah added.

A PICC line is usually inserted into a vein in the arm and secured to the skin. Medication is given through the tubing, eliminating the need for frequent needle jabs.

The study was published online Nov. 17 in Pediatrics.

About 15 percent of children hospitalized for pneumonia develop complex pneumonia, according to the researchers. Complex pneumonia includes an infection in the area between the layers of tissue that line the lungs and the chest cavity.

More information

The American Lung Association has more on pneumonia.