Two independent studies provide a further nail in the coffin to treatment of childhood earache with antibiotics.
A double blind study conducted at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands of 121 children aged 6 months to 2 years with chronic middle ear infections were given either co amoxiclav or a placebo over seven days. Although the antibiotic seemed to have a slight effect on babies, the study concluded that "Co-amoxiclav has no significant benefit over placebo in treating children older than two with acute otitis media." In other words, antibiotics are no better than a sugar pill in treating acute ear ache.
"The most striking result of this study is that even in a population of children aged 6 months to 12 years prone to otitis media the natural course of the clinical improvement is not different from the course when co-amoxiclav is prescribed," the authors wrote. Translated that means that antibiotics don't do anything that nature doesn't do itself.
The second study from the University of Pittsburgh examined the effects of antibiotics used with or without an oral decongestant antihistamine combination on "secretory" , or weeping, otitis media in children aged 7 months to 12 years. Once again, amoxicillin with and without decongestant antihistamine combination was "not effective" for the treatment of persistent middle ear infection in both infants and children.
"Furthermore," said the study, "recurrence rates were significantly higher in the antibiotic treated group than in the placebo group. Six weeks after antibiotic treatment, the number of children without effusions was about the same in each group."
This means that repeated antibiotic treatment could be the source of the chronic problem!