In an April 2016 blog post for The New York Times titled “Where Have All the Ear Infections Gone?” health writer Perri Klass, MD, draws attention to the fact that prevalence of ear infections (otitis media) in babies and young children seems to be in decline and, when infections do occur, pediatricians seem to be treating them more conservatively.

middle ear infectionsKlass reports how, in her early days as a practicing pediatrician, she saw many ear infection cases, and the prevalence continued throughout the 1990s. The common practice was to treat nearly all ear infections with prescribed antibiotics. However, in recent years Klass observes that in-clinic ear infections appear to be much less common. What’s more, she explains that physicians who encounter cases of potential otitis media are more likely to verify the presence of an actual bacterial infection before prescribing antibiotics.

According to her blog, a March 2016 study article published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers monitored 367 babies during the first year of life to track the occurrence of ear infections. The researchers found that rates of ear infections among babies and young children are lower than the rates found in older studies, done in the 1980s and 1990s. Many pediatricians interviewed noted that they weren’t seeing as many otitis media cases as they used to. Some of the doctors interviewed attributed the decreased incidence of ear infections among US children to improved parenting–parents today are more informed, and thus making better decisions that reduce¬†kids’ risk factors for ear infections and related health problems by immunizing their children, breast feeding, and not smoking around their family members.

For more details and information on the studies Klass investigated, read her original blog post on The New York Times website.

For additional information on recent studies that have found a drop in rates of ear infection among US children, please see this March 29, 2016 article in The Hearing Review.

Source: The New York Times online