Scientists stunned by discovery about babies’ ear infections

Scientists stunned by discovery about babies’ ear infections

A major new discovery about ear infections could completely change the treatment options doctors consider in the future.

A major new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that babies with ear infections get worse outcomes when given shorter antibiotic treatments than a treatment of a standard duration. It’s a big finding that suggests limiting the duration of antimicrobial treatment for infants would be a risky strategy for cutting down antibiotic use.

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh examined 520 children between 6 and 23 month sof age, giving half of them a 10-day course of amoxicillin-clavulanate, and the other group got a 5-day course and then a 5-day course of placebo. Then they followed up with the children to see how they were doing.

Scientists found that the risk of treatment failure was twice as great in children who got the 5-day regimen versus the standard 10-day treatment, with 34 percent showing clinical failure at 5 days and just 16 percent at 10 days.

“Given significant concerns regarding overuse of antibiotics and increased antibiotic resistance, we conducted this trial to see if reducing the duration of antibiotic treatment would be equally effective along with decreased antibiotic resistance and fewer adverse reactions,” said Alejandro Hoberman, M.D., chief, Division of General Academic Pediatrics at Children’s, and the Jack L. Paradise Endowed Professor of Pediatric Research at Pitt’s School of Medicine, in the statement.

“The results of this study clearly show that for treating ear infections in children between 9 and 23 months of age, a 5-day course of antibiotic offers no benefit in terms of adverse events or antibiotic resistance. Though we should be rightly concerned about the emergence of resistance overall for this condition, the benefits of the 10-day regimen greatly outweigh the risks,” said Dr. Hoberman.

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