For years physicians were guided to take a “watch and see” approach to treating children’s ear infections. But a new study may have the pendulum swinging the other way.
Results of a new study appearing in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests antibiotics are the most effective treatment for middle-ear infections in children under two.
Children were found to feel better and recover faster when treated. Previous recommendations guided pediatricians to wait a few days to see of the illness went a way on its own.
Paul Lyons is with Temple University school of Medicine. He said diagnosing a true ear infection in a child is challenging. “In a lot of busy practices that may or may not be a practical recommendation when you add ear wax and the significant distress it potentially causes the one year old two year old,” he said. “It would not surprise me to discover physicians will not full embrace the kind of ear examine described in this study.”
The researchers assigned 291 children under two with middle ear infections either an antibiotic or a placebo for 10 days.
As a pediatrician with Saint Christopher’s Hospital for Children Hans Kersten has seen his share of ear infections. He said antibiotics for an ear infection works wonders, but you need to be certain it’s a true ear infection before treating. “There is concern that children are over treated with antibiotics,” he said. “There is a tremendous amount of resistance in the infections that we treat to the antibiotics, partly because so many children and adults are treated with antibiotics.”
Kersten says some studies show as many as 20 percent of children are given antibiotics for the common cold.