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Antibiotics work for acute otitis media



By Christian Duffin

Antibiotics are effective in babies and very young children with acute otitis media infection, two separate groups of researchers have shown.

A US team conducted a randomised double-blind trial in 291 children. Of those who received antibiotics, 35% had initial resolution of symptoms by day two, 61% had it by day four and 80% by day seven, compared with 28%, 54% and 74% respectively in the placebo group. Diarrhoea and dermatitis were more common among children who received the antibiotic.

In a second study, a team from Finland found that in 319 children aged six to 35 months with acute otitis media treated with either amoxicillin treatment or placebo, treatment failure occurred in only 18.6% of children taking antibiotics, compared to 44.9% on the placebo. About half in the antibiotic group had diarrhoea, nearly double the proportion in the placebo group.

Dr Paula Tähtinen, a researcher the department of paediatrics at Turku University Hospital in Finland said: ‘Children with acute otitis media benefit from antimicrobial treatment, although they have more side-effects.’

N Engl J Med 2011;364:105-15 and 116-26

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Antibiotics work for actute otitis media