The decrease in cases of ear infections (otitis media) in children may be attributed to strides in improving the nation's air quality over the past ten years.
These results are according to new research presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO, in San Diego, CA.
The study, which used National Health Interview Survey data of 120,060 children from 1997-2006, measured how many instances occurred in the previous year for three disease conditions: frequent otitis media (FOM, 3 or more ear infections in the previous 12 months), respiratory allergy, and seizure activity. These numbers were cross-referenced with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality data over the same period. The authors discovered that as air quality improved, the number of cases of FOM decreased.
Otitis media is one of the most common illnesses among children, with annual direct and indirect costs in the $3-5 billion.