To see if saline irrigation would have a positive effect on the rate of ear infections, the researchers recruited 29 children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years who had been referred to the otolaryngology clinic at Sainte-Justine Hospital because of recurrent ear infections.
Seventeen of the children were randomly selected to be in the nasal rinse treatment group. Parents were instructed on how to properly irrigate their children's nasal cavities, and were asked to perform the nasal rinse at least four times a day, four days a week. According to the study, all of those in the treatment group performed the nasal irrigations as specified by the researchers.
After three months, the researchers found that five children who weren't treated experienced two or more ear infections, while no youngsters in the treatment group had two or more infections. Four kids in the control group had just one ear infection while seven in the treatment group had one infection. Only three children in the control group didn't have an ear infection, compared to 10 in the treated group.
Overall, youngsters in the control group experienced an average of just over one ear infection a month vs. 0.35 infections per month in the treatment group.
"Ear infections were much less likely in the treatment group, but this is a pretty small study," said Rosenfeld, who was also concerned that kids in the control group had more risk factors for getting ear infections.
"The group that was not treated had a much higher rate of day-care attendances, they were younger, there were more boys, they had an earlier onset of ear infections and they used pacifiers more. Every one of those things is a risk factor for ear infections on their own," he said.
"So, did the treatment group have fewer infections because the saline worked, or because those kids have less risk to begin with?" wondered Rosenfeld.
"It's a good idea that may or m
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