A new report published in the journal Archives of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery (March, 2008 edition) show that when prescribed to children with middle ear infections, antibiotics are NOT associated with a significant reduction in fluid buildup in the ear. This work is a meta-analysis of previously published studies.
Ear infections are among the most common diseases in infants and children. Middle ear infections (technically called "acute otitis media") may lead to fluid buildup in the middle ear. The authors write that this problem may lead to a conductive hearing loss of 15 decibels to 40 decibels, presenting an adverse effect on language development, cognitive development, behavior and quality of life.
University Medical Center, located in Utrecht, the Netherlands, analyzed large amounts of clinical data and found that children taking antibiotics were 90 percent as likely to develop problems as those who did not take antibiotics. This difference was not statistically significant, and as a result, antibiotics are not recommended as a solution to this ear problem.
"Because of a marginal effect of antibiotic therapy on the development of asymptomatic middle ear effusion and the known negative effects of prescribing antibiotics, including the development of antibiotic resistance and adverse effects, we do not recommend prescribing antibiotics to prevent middle ear effusion," the authors write.