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Ear Infections Down, Thanks to Vaccine

11/25/2013

Nov. 25, 2013 — Otitis media, more commonly known as ear infection, is the leading cause of pediatric health care visits and the most frequent reason children are prescribed antibiotics or undergo surgery. Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have discovered that, during recent years, several interventions have been introduced aiming to decrease the otitis media burden -- and they've been successful.

The 11-year study, published online Nov. 25 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, examined the trends in otitis media-related health care use in the United States for the first 10 years that a new type of vaccine came into use. The researchers, led by Dr. Tasnee Chonmaitree, looked at insurance claims data from a nationwide managed health care plan of 7.82 million children under 6 visiting a health care provider for an ear infection or a complication or surgical intervention related to ear infection. Data was taken from insurance claims between 2001 and 2011. The first pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was introduced in the United States in 2000.

The researchers found there was a downward trend in visits from 2004 to 2011, with a significant drop in children younger than 2 years that coincided with the advent of the 13-valent vaccine, or PCV-13, in 2010.

Chonmaitree, professor of pediatrics in the division of pediatric infectious diseases, noted that this is the first study to determine otitis media-related health care use trends since the marketing of PCV-13 in the United States.

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