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Benefits To Treating Young Children With Ear Infections

By Debbie Kim, WBZ-TV Medical Producer
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WBZ-TV's Lisa Hughes Lisa Hughes
Award-winning journalist Lisa Hughes is a news anchor for WBZ-TV News...
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BOSTON (CBS) – With so many questions about the safety of antibiotics, parents find themselves in a tough spot when their child has an ear infection.  Is it best to give them drugs or hold off?

Now two new studies have an answer, especially for kids three and under.  Aidan Ortiz isn’t feeling well and now he’s pulling on his ears.

His mother Veronica says, “I was concerned because i thought he might have had an ear infection.”  But Aidan’s mom says she’s hesitant to give antibiotics because there’s such a big debate over them.

Now two new studies in the New England Journal of Medicine show there are benefits to treating some younger children with those drugs.

WBZ-TV’s Lisa Hughes reports.

Doctors looked at hundreds of kids ages six months to three years with ear infections.  The children who took antibiotics had less severe symptoms and improved sooner.

Dr. Jerome Klein, professor of Pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine, explains, ‘If parents are concerned they should be relieved to know on the basis of these studies, antibiotics work.”

But doctors say antibiotics should only be given to children who are diagnosed with ear infections caused by bacteria.

Dr. Sean Palfrey, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center says, “There has been controversy antibiotics may not be necessary and thy certainly aren’t necessary if you have a viral ear infection, but if you have a bacterial ear infection, it shows clearly that this particular medicine that they were studying, amoxicillin does shorten symptoms and decrease the severe consequences of ear infections.”

Ear infections are the number one reason kids end up at the doctor’s office.  In fact, three out of four kids will have at least one ear infection by the time they’re three years old.

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