Thursday, January 13, 2011

Antibiotics Ease Ear Infection Symptoms in Infants & Toddlers

Alejandro Hoberman, M.D. and a team from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh recently found that antibiotics are an effective treatment for young children diagnosed with acute otitis media, or a middle ear infection. Hoberman’s research is another in a series of trials worldwide that look at the effects of antibiotics on the relief of symptoms and overall recovery, while shielding children against the risk of becoming resistant to drugs.

“Most children in the U.S. with acute otitis media have been treated routinely with antibiotics but there has been concern with antibiotic overuse and clinical practice guidelines have included an option that provides for “watchful waiting” in children older than six months with mild symptoms, reserving antibiotics for children who do not improve with time,” Dr. Hoberman says.

His research looked at a variety of characteristics of ear infections and he studied 291 children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. The children were randomly assigned to a placebo group and a group that received the antibiotic amoxicillin-clavulanate for 10 days. The study found that at both check points, five days and 10 days, the children who had been given the antibiotics were recovering earlier and symptoms were significantly less intense.

Dr. Hoberman insists that although the findings show that antibiotics can be a great help in the treatment of ear infections, it is still essential for children to have a certain diagnosis of acute otitis media before being treated with drugs. He says that drug resistance in children is still an issue that needs to be accounted for.

“These considerations underscore the need to restrict treatment to children whose illness is diagnosed using stringent criteria,” Dr. Hoberman says. “Provided the diagnosis of acute otitis media is certain we favor treatment of antibiotics for all children under two years of age with acute otitis media.”

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