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Ear Infection Health Center

It's in the Genes: Some Kids Are Just More Susceptible to Ear Infections

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Roland Eavey, MD, of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, tells WebMD that the environmental component in ear infections -- that is, kids passing the infection on to others in day care -- is to be expected. But the hereditary factor is a bit more uncertain, he says.

"Because ear infections account for 25 million medical clinic visits a year, there is value in looking at this disorder," according to Eavey.

Eavey says that beyond families with twins, the study suggests that there can be tendencies within families for the same pattern of ear infections. One could imply that children should be checked more frequently for early signs of infection and more ambitiously treated with medications and ear tubes, he tells WebMD.

The study broadens the definition of what constitutes genetic disease, researchers say, and will compel scientists and physicians to look at infectious diseases in a new light.

Vital Information:

  • A new study shows that there may be a genetic component to inner ear infections that predisposes some children to the illness.
  • Inner ear infections are responsible for more antibiotic administration and surgery than any other childhood ailment.
  • If physicians could identify which children are at higher risk, preventive measures could be taken to avoid complications from the infection.
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