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Study finds race, ethnicity impact access to care for children with frequent ear infections
Date:10/25/2010

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.

When these infections are left untreated, complications can include hearing loss, speech problems and more severe infections that can spread to bone and brain, causing meningitis. But not all kids have the same access to medical specialists and medicines.

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 health care resources.

The findings, published in the November 2010 issue of the journal OtolaryngologyHead and Neck Surgery, 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 African American and Hispanic children 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 health care reform."

Researchers used data from a 10-year period (1997�) taken from the National Health Interview Survey, a large-scale, household-based survey of a statistically rep
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Contact: Amy Albin
aalbin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-8672
University of California -- Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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