Antibiotics and Ear Infections


Antibiotics and Ear Infections
  • More children are treated in the U.S. with antibiotics for inflammation of the middle ear, or otitis media than any other child health problem.
  • Dr. Owen Hendley in a study published in the NEJM found in a review of over 100 studies that antibiotics help only 1 in 8 children.
  • Hendley says there is a clear downside to the use of antibiotics to treat common ear infections. “The bacteria which cause ear infections learn quickly to be resistant to antibiotics. At some point we’re going to run out of drugs to treat the problem.
— A landmark study published in Pediatrics has shown that treating ear infections with antibiotics has no benefit when compared to doing nothing.
 McCormick DP, et al. Nonsevere acute otitis media: a clinical trial comparing outcomes of watchful waiting versus immediate antibiotic treatment. Pediatrics June 2005; 115(6):1455.



What’s Biofilm?
  • Biofilms are antibiotic resistant colonizations of bacteria that attach to surfaces and form a slime-like barrier that acts as a formidable defense mechanism, protecting the bacteria from eradication.
  • "Nearly all of the children in our study who suffered from chronic otitis media tested positive for biofilms in the middle ear, even those who were asymptomatic.“ 
  • "Given that bacteria living in biofilms are metabolically resistant to antibiotics, this study makes a definitive, scientifically-based statement against the use of these drugs to treat children with chronic ear infections. It simply does not help the child and increases the risk of breeding more resistant strains of bacteria."
-          Garth Ehrlich, Ph.D., principal investigator and   executive director of the ASRI Center for Genomic Sciences
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