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Is your child more prone to ear infections?

Posted Feb 19 2009 5:10pm

sick girl
Ear infections are pretty common in children, but what causes them? I had lot of ear infections as a kid, bad ones. Now, it pains me (of course) to see my kids experience the same pain and discomfort. I have found there are a variety of factors that can lead to ear infections for toddlers and children, some preventable.

The American Academy of Family Physicians lists these common risk factors for ear infections in children:

  • Being around cigarette smoking.
  • Having had ear infections before, frequent colds, or having a family history of ear infections.
  • Going to a day-care center.
  • Being born premature or at low birth weight.
  • Going to bed with a bottle or using a pacifier.
  • Being male.
  • Having allergies that cause congestion.

Secondhand smoke increases children’s risk of developing asthma, ear infections and cavities and increases infants’ risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
ear diagram
Here are some healthy habits and guidelines for parents and caregivers to follow when caring for young children prone to ear infections;

  • Breastfeeding appears to lower an infant’s risk of ear infections.
  • Children under age two should not lie flat when they bottle-feed.
  • No one should be allowed to smoke around children. Secondhand smoke increases a child’s risk for ear infections. In fact, even smoke from wood stoves can irritate breathing and increase the risk of an ear infection.
  • Children in day care centers tend to have more colds and a higher risk of ear infection. Although it would be best to keep an ill child at home, this may not be possible. Parents should work with day care center staff to ensure proper hand washing, tissue use and cleanliness.
  • Regularly practice proper hygiene in the home to reduce spread of germs that lead to infection; regularly wash and disinfect all surface areas, toys and play things and common play areas, teach children to always wash their hands after sneezing or coughing into them.

Sited & Related Links;
HealthDay | Ear Infections
HealthDay | Almost half of kids still exposed to secondhand smoke
NY State Health | Ear Infections [*PDF]
American Academy of Family Physicians | Ear Infections in children; What you should know

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