Researchers say a daily teaspoon of lemon-flavored cod liver oil followed by a chewy, multi-vitamin tablet with selenium may help prevent middle ear infections in children. New studies show children with otitis media, or middle ear infection, required fewer antibiotics and had fewer ear infections once they began taking vitamin/mineral supplements and cod liver oil, which has vitamins A and D and omega-3 fatty acids.
Otitis media is common and expensive to treat. It often follows upper respiratory infections that plague children in winter months. Researchers, from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary in the first part of the study, took blood samples from 40 children and discovered that three important chemicals were lower than in adults. Researchers were surprised to find lower levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid that helps decrease inflammation. Researchers also confirmed previous studies that show lower levels of vitamin A and selenium in children.
In the second part of the study, seven of the eight children received the three nutritional supplements. These children had to take antibiotics for 12 percent fewer days while they were taking the study supplements than before. The eighth child would not take cod liver oil because of its taste. Five of the children didn't experience any additional ear infections for the remainder of the winter season.
Linda A. Linday, M.D., from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary this study provides preliminary evidence that some episodes of otitis media may be prevented and that the reliance on antibiotics may be reduced among young children by using nutritional supplements.