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Antibiotics Do Little for Inner Ear Infections
Date:2/18/2008

No reason to give them to kids to try to prevent fluid buildup, analysis shows

MONDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Antibiotics don't significantly reduce fluid buildup in young children with inner ear infections, a new analysis shows.

Whether such drugs work in this regard has been a matter of conjecture, with one recent study suggesting a benefit in children aged 2 and under. So, Dutch researchers did a meta-analysis of several previously published studies and found the results don't support the use of antibiotics for the fluid buildup that can accompany inner ear infections.

"Due to the marginal effect and the known negative effects of prescribing antibiotics, such as the development of antibiotic resistance and side effects, we do not recommend prescribing antibiotics to prevent middle ear effusion," said lead researcher Maroeska M. Rovers, from the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care at the University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands.

Ear infections are very common among infants and children. They can lead to fluid buildup in the ear, which is known as otitis media with effusion. This buildup can result in hearing loss, which can affect language development, cognitive development, behavior and quality of life, according to the researchers.

The report was published in the February issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

In the study, Rovers' team collected data on 1,328 children aged 6 months to 12 years with acute middle ear infection. These children had participated in five studies that compared treating ear infections with antibiotics to a placebo or no treatment at all.

Among the children in the studies, 44 percent were younger than 2. Of these children, 51.8 percent had recurrent ear infections. It was in this group of children that the risk of fluid buildup was the greatest.

Rovers' group found that the children
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