Skip to content

Ear Infection Health Center

Novel Therapy Uses Bacteria to Protect Children From Ear Infections

Font Size
A
A
A

WebMD Health News

Jan. 26, 2001 -- A spray therapy that uses a form of "good" bacteria could help protect children from ear infections. Swedish researchers administered the treatment to a group of children who were prone to ear infections and found that many more of them stayed healthy. The controversial study was published in the Jan. 27 issue of the British Medical Journal.

If you have children, it's likely they've had an ear infection. Seven out of every 10 children have at least one bout of the infection of the middle ear, also known as otitis media, by the time they are 3 years old. In some cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics to help healing. But antibiotics have increasingly come under fire because they may promote the spread of more dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

This new therapy could offer an alternative treatment to antibiotics, a popular method for handling recurring infections. Although the treatment has not yet received approval in the U.S., the research findings already are stirring debate among pediatricians.

"We use more antibiotics in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world," says Richard J.H. Smith, MD, vice chair of the department of otolaryngology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. "Part of the reason is that when parents come into the clinic to see a physician, they expect to leave with something." But instead of medication, Smith tells WebMD they should be leaving with reassurance.

"In view of the rising antibiotic resistance in the world, it's important to avoid antibiotic treatment, and this can be a way to do that," lead researcher Kristina Roos, MD, tells WebMD. Roos is an associate professor in the ear, nose, and throat department at Lundby Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden.

"These [study] results will be very controversial because they offer a very good alternative to antibiotics," Linda Brodsky, MD, chief of pediatric otolaryngology at Children's Hospital of Buffalo, N.Y., tells WebMD. "Furthermore, the 'safety' will not be satisfied until thousands of patients are treated. Placing 'germs' in the throat is difficult to explain to a layperson who won't understand treating infections with other germs, but that is relatively easy to educate and overcome."

Today on WebMD

Ear Infection Slideshow
Slideshow
Earache Cold Ear Infection
Article
 
Side view of child's ear
Article
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
Ear Infections When To Call A Doctor
Reference
woman cleaning ear
Quiz
 
Ear Infections Medications
Reference
Ear Infections Surgery
Reference
 
24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
Slideshow
Parker Treating Ear Infections
Video
 
Ear Infections What Happens
Reference
Ear Infections Exams And Tests
Reference