Fewer ear infections for US babies – and why?

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Increases in breastfeeding, decreases in parental smoking, and vaccination against pneumonia and influenza were linked to the reduced incidence of ear infections among U.S. babies in their first year of life…

Rates of acute otitis media have dropped significantly since the 1980s and 1990s, reported Tasnee Chonmaitree, MD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and colleagues.

Nearly half – 46% – of the 367 babies followed between 2008 and 2014 had an ear infection in their first year of life, compared with around three out of five babies in studies conducted 2 and 3 decades ago, they wrote in Pediatrics.

Breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months or more was associated with a significantly lower risk for upper respiratory infection, while day care attendance and having multiple siblings were both associated with an increased risk for the infections in the study.

Ear infections remain the leading cause of physician visits, antibiotic use, and surgery among babies and young children. The findings suggest that factors such as the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines for infants, increased breastfeeding, and declines in infant secondhand smoke exposure have all contributed to lower ear infection incidence…

“These findings are reassuring,” she said. “Breastfeeding specifically was shown to be associated with a lower risk for common cold, which leads to ear infections.”…

Chonmaitree said the introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine almost 2 decades ago, and the recent recommendation that babies receive the influenza vaccine starting at the age of 6 months, may have had the biggest impact on AOM incidence.

Reduced exposure to secondhand smoke from parents is also a likely contributor to lower AOM rates, although the study was too small to show this, she added.

All good science and healthful findings. Now, if we could convince the political hacks of America that helping folks to raise healthy children is good for the nation, our economy, our future, they’d back off from the stupidity of [their side of] class warfare and lose budgets and regulations that confine healthy pediatrics only to those who can afford it.

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