Dr. Alanna Levine: Ear infections are responsible for many sleepless nights for both parents and children. They are a leading cause of childhood illness in the U.S., and the most common reason for a child to be on antibiotics. But according to a recent article in Pediatrics, a new vaccine may soon be in development which will prevent up to 31% of the pediatric ear infections that occur each year in the U.S.
There is currently a vaccine, Prevnar, that protects children from one of the three most common bacteria that causes ear infections. This accounts for an estimated reduction of over 850,000 cases per year. One new proposed vaccine, which protects against two of the three most common bacteria, would prevent 3.7 million cases or 27% of ear infections in the U.S. And, a vaccine against all three would increase the protection to 4.2 million or 31% of cases.
Currently, given that most cases will resolve untreated within a few days, coupled with the growing risk that resistant bacteria may result from antibiotic overuse, many pediatricians are opting to simply observe children with ear infections over the age of 2. But try telling that to the mom who was consoling her child all night long, or to the mom who missed three days of work because her child had a fever.
For these parents, a new vaccine may be a welcome weapon in the arsenal against the bacteria responsible for this painful condition.
|Dr. Alanna Levine is a pediatrician in private practice and on staff at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, where she attends high risk deliveries and cares for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She is a national spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and frequently appears on television as a medical expert. Dr. Levine lives in New York with her husband and their two children.|