Research targets bacteria causing kids ear infections

New research led from Aucklands Starship Childrens Hospital is helping combat widespread childhood ear infections by pinpointing the bacteria responsible for acute middle ear disease in children in New Zealand

Paediatric Otolaryngologist at the hospital Dr Nikki Mills who is leading the research says the study is using advanced molecular techniques to identify and study the actual bacteria causing the disease in New Zealand as opposed to relying on overseas research Her study will also provide a basis for measuring the impact of vaccination on the types of bacteria causing ear infections

Dr Mills says quotNew Zealand children deserve to have treatment based on local information Until now decisions on treating acute middle ear disease have been based on old data or data from other countries particularly Australia and Europe

quotThis study is the first of its kind in New Zealand in nearly 20 years and supported by more modern research techniques it will help doctors make antibiotic treatment decisions based on real life factors

quotAs a result of the research we will also have better information for making recommendations on childhood immunisation which help prevent ear infectionsquot

As well as identifying the main causes of childhood ear disease in New Zealand the study examined regional variations to confirm the suitability of treatment nationally

quotNow that we have this information we can take steps to determine if we need to be prescribing different antibiotics to treat ear infections in different parts of the countryquot said Dr Mills

The study also takes other risk factors into account such as family history smoking overcrowding and medical history

The study involved more than 460 children in three New Zealand District Health Boards Auckland Counties Manukau and Canterbury with Dr Emma Best Starship Childrens Hospital and Dr Tony Walls Christchurch Hospital working as coinvestigators alongside Dr Mills

All children were under the age of three and were in hospital to undergo grommet insertion 325 children or another medical procedure under general anaesthetic 137 children All children in the study were also eligible for the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine on the National Immunisation Schedule

Both groups had swabs taken from the back of their noses and samples of middle ear fluid were also taken from the group of children receiving grommets

The study will help understanding of the impact of the nextgeneration pneumococcal vaccine that was introduced into New Zealands National Immunisation Schedule in 2011 As well as providing protection against invasive pneumococcal disease Synflorix is the only vaccine that may cover 80 of bacteria responsible for ear infections

Date : 21 May, 2012
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