Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Antibiotic treatment for ear infections in kids provides only modest benefits, study finds

Date:
November 17, 2010
Source:
RAND Corporation
Summary:
Using antibiotics to treat newly diagnosed acute ear infections among children is modestly more effective than no treatment, but comes with a risk of side effects, according to a new study designed to help advise efforts to rewrite treatment guidelines for the common illness.

Using antibiotics to treat newly diagnosed acute ear infections among children is modestly more effective than no treatment, but comes with a risk of side effects, according to a new study designed to help advise efforts to rewrite treatment guidelines for the common illness.

Researchers found no evidence that name-brand antibiotics work any better in general than generic antibiotics and that careful examination of the eardrum by a clinician for signs of infection is critical for accurate diagnosis of acute ear infections. The study is published in the Nov. 17 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Our findings reinforce the existing knowledge that the best antibiotic treatment for common childhood ear infections may be no antibiotic treatment at all," said lead author Dr. Tumaini R. Coker, a pediatrician at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and a researcher at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization.

"Prescribing antibiotics early may help cure ear infections a little bit faster, but also raises the risk that children will suffer antibiotic-related side effects such as a rash or diarrhea," Coker said. "Parents and their children may value these different outcomes differently."

Researchers from the Southern California Evidence-Based Practice Center conducted the study by examining previously published research about the diagnosis and treatment of acute ear infections among children. The review was requested by the American Academy of Pediatrics as part of its effort to update practice guidelines for treating acute ear infections among young children.

The study found that a major limitation of efforts to improve the treatment of acute ear infections is that there is no one definitive test for making the diagnosis. The use of an otoscope to look into the ear for signs of infection is a key component of any diagnosis and improving clinicians' ability to conduct this exam may help improve the accuracy of diagnosis, researchers said.

Acute ear infections are the most common childhood illness in the United States where antibiotics are routinely prescribed. A 2006 study estimated that it costs about $350 to treat each episode of the illness, with yearly national costs totaling $2.8 billion.

The new study reviews published data from 1999 to 2010 about the treatment of acute ear infections among children. This systematic review of the literature found that prescribing antibiotics early for acute ear infections had a modest benefit. Of 100 average-risk children with acute ear infections, about 80 would be expected to get better within about three days without antibiotics. If all were treated with antibiotics immediately at diagnosis, evidence suggests an additional 12 would improve, but three to 10 children would develop a rash and five to 10 would develop diarrhea, according to the study.

"Early prescribing of antibiotics offers a slight benefit and poses a slight risk," said the study's senior author, Dr. Glenn Takata, a pediatrician and researcher at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "Clinicians will have to take these modest benefits and risks into consideration when deciding whether to treat with antibiotics or not."

Researchers also found no evidence that using newer, name-brand antibiotics to treat uncomplicated acute ear infections in normal-risk children offers an advantage over generic antibiotics, namely the commonly-used amoxicillin. Despite these findings, the higher-priced antibiotics are often prescribed for uncomplicated acute ear infections. Savings could be substantial if physicians used amoxicillin as the first line of defense against uncomplicated acute ear infections, according to researchers.

Funding for the study was provided by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which provides ongoing support to the Southern California Evidence-Based Practice Center. The center is based at RAND and the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

Other authors of the study are Linda S. Chan and Dr. Mary Ann Limbos of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Sydne J. Newberry and Marika J. Suttorp of RAND, and Dr. Paul. G. Shekelle of RAND and the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by RAND Corporation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tumaini R. Coker, MD, MBA; Linda S. Chan, PhD; Sydne J. Newberry, PhD; Mary Ann Limbos, MD, MPH; Marika J. Suttorp, MS; Paul G. Shekelle, MD, PhD; Glenn S. Takata, MD, MS. Diagnosis, Microbial Epidemiology, and Antibiotic Treatment of Acute Otitis Media in Children A Systematic Review. JAMA, 2010;304(19):2161-2169 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2010.1651

Cite This Page:

RAND Corporation. "Antibiotic treatment for ear infections in kids provides only modest benefits, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101116181951.htm>.
RAND Corporation. (2010, November 17). Antibiotic treatment for ear infections in kids provides only modest benefits, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101116181951.htm
RAND Corporation. "Antibiotic treatment for ear infections in kids provides only modest benefits, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101116181951.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins