By Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Oct. 7, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've found a potential genetic link to a child's higher risk of middle ear infections.
These painful infections are the most frequent reason kids are given antibiotics, according to the researchers. They said the new discovery could lead to more effective treatments.
The analysis of DNA samples from 13,000 children revealed a link between middle ear infection and a site on chromosome 6 that contains the gene FNDC1. Follow-up studies showed that the corresponding gene in mice was expressed in the middle ear.
The study was published online recently in the journal Nature Communications.
"Although the gene's function in humans has not been well studied, we do know that FNDC1 codes for a protein with a role in inflammation," said study leader Dr. Hakon Hakonarson, director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"Although microbes cause the condition [of ear infections], it's been well-known that genetics also plays a role. This is the first and largest genetic study focused on risk susceptibility for acute otitis media [middle ear infections]," he said in a hospital news release.