-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- White children and those
in poor families are more likely to have repeated ear infections
than other children, U.S. researchers have found.
Ear infection (also called otitis media) is one of the most
common health problems in children. By the age of 3, more than 80
percent of children have had at least one ear infection. The cost
of medical and surgical treatment of these infections is $3 billion
to $5 billion a year in the United States.
About 4.65 million U.S. children suffer frequent ear infections
each year, defined as more than three infections over 12 months,
according to background information in the study by University of
California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Harvard University
The research team analyzed 1997-2006 data from the U.S. National
Health Interview Survey and found that the rates of frequent ear
infections were 7 percent for white children, 6.2 percent for
Hispanic children, 5 percent for black children, and 4.5 percent
for children of other racial or ethnic groups. The average age of
the children in the study was 8.5 years.
The study authors also found that the rate of frequent ear
infections among children in households below the poverty line was
higher (8 percent) than that for those in families above the
"The racial and ethnic disparity was somewhat surprising," study co-author Dr. Nina Shapiro, director of pediatric otolaryngology at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, said in a UCLA news release.
"We are not certain why these gaps exist, but possible explanations could include anatomic differences, cultural factors or disparate access to health care. It could also be that white children are overdiagnosed and non-white children are underdiagnosed," she said.
The findings are published in the August issue of the journal
The Nemours Foundation has more about
ear infections in children.
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