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Racial and ethnic disparities impact care for children with frequent ear infections
Date:10/31/2010

Alexandria, VA Racial and ethnic disparities among children with frequent ear infections (FEI) significantly influence access to affordable healthcare, according to new research published in the November 2010 issue of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.

Ear infections are one of the most common health problems for children, with most kids experiencing at least one by their third birthday. Annual costs in the United States alone are in the billions of dollars.

Despite changes that have occurred in healthcare to help low-income children, such as the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a large population of children still cannot afford prescription medication with black and Hispanic children more at risk

A new study by researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Harvard Medical School has found that racial and ethnic disparities among children with frequent ear infections can significantly influence access to healthcare resources.

The findings show that compared with white children, African American and Hispanic children are at increased odds of not being able to afford prescription medications, not having medical insurance, and not being able to see a specialist. The study also shows that they are more likely than white children to visit the emergency room for an ear infection.

"Our goal was to provide an accurate demographic picture of the U.S. so that we could identify disparities to target for intervention," said study co-author Dr. Nina Shapiro, director of pediatric otolaryngology at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and an associate professor of surgery at the Geffen School of Medicine. "Clearly, we found that children of certain ethnicities who suffer from frequent ear infections are more likely to face greater barriers to care. This information provides an opportunity for improvements in our current healthcare reform."

Researchers used data from a 10-year per
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Contact: Mary Stewart
mstewart@entnet.org
703-535-3762
American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery
Source:Eurekalert

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