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NZ preschoolers get 83000 acute middle ear infections yearly

11 October 2012

Benchmark study says NZ preschoolers suffer 83,000 acute middle ear infections every year

A major new study of acute otitis media (AOM), or acute middle ear infection, in New Zealand has reported that there are approximately 83,000 new cases in pre-schoolers every year.

Published in the latest edition of the Journal of Primary Healthcare, the study has been welcomed as an authoritative report on the scale of AOM, which is painful and can result in loss of hearing.

It will be used as a benchmark to measure the impact of the Synflorix vaccine (pneumococcal polysaccharide conjugate vaccine, 10-valent adsorbed), which was introduced to the New Zealand immunisation schedule in 2011 and is the only vaccine with the potential to protect against the two types of bacteria that are the leading causes of ear infections.

Paediatrician, Dr Simon Hoare, said this study provides important information on the incidence of AOM, the demographics of affected populations and management of AOM in primary care.

“Until now we have had to rely on studies that were out of date. This study not only gives us an accurate estimate of AOM’s incidence in New Zealand, but provides a baseline for future analysis of the impact of immunisations and changes in how AOM is managed by doctors in primary care,” he said.

While rates of AOM seen in General Practice varied little across ethnic groups, Maori and Pacific Island children have been shown to be overrepresented in admissions to Starship Children’s Hospital for mastoiditis – a complication of AOM causing an infection of the mastoid bone. The study also showed that GPs are more being more selective in their use of antibiotics, which might be further improved following the introduction of the vaccine, Dr Hoare said.

“While antibiotics are absolutely essential for treating serious complications such as mastoiditis, the study found that in New Zealand approximately only half the children with AOM were treated with antibiotics. It’s encouraging to see that New Zealand doctors don’t appear to be over-prescribing for AOM treatment and rates are even favourable compared to international antibiotic prescription rates. With the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine Synflorix, our rates should be considerably lower.”

The study, Incidence of Acute Otitis Media in New Zealand Children Under Five Years of Age in the Primary Care Setting, was conducted from 1 November 2008 to 31 October 2009. Authors of the study examined the consultation notes from 63 primary healthcare facilities throughout New Zealand involving 19,146 children under 5 years of age.

For a full copy of the article published in the Journal of Primary Health Care, please visit:

Product Information

Synflorix® (pneumococcal polysaccharide conjugate vaccine, 10-valent adsorbed), is an injection for intramuscular use only. It is available as a prescription medicine for active immunisation of infants and children from the age of 6 weeks up to 5 years against disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae serotypes 1, 4, 5, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, and 23F (including invasive disease, pneumonia, and acute otitis media). Synflorix is fully funded on the National Immunisation Schedule. The vaccination course of Synflorix consists of three doses beginning at 6 weeks of age, with at least 1 month between doses, plus a booster dose at least 6 months after the third dose. Children aged between 2 and 5 years should have two doses with an interval of at least 2 months between doses. Each 0•5mL dose contains: 1mcg of pneumococcal polysaccharide serotypes 1, 5, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, and 23F and 3mcg of pneumococcal polysaccharide serotypes 4, 18C, and 19F, adsorbed onto 0•5mg aluminium phosphate. Synflorix also contains approximately 13mcg of protein D, 8mcg of tetanus toxoid, and 5mcg of diphtheria toxoid, as carrier proteins. Synflorix should not be administered in children who have previously had any allergic reaction to Synflorix or any ingredient in Synflorix. Tell your doctor if your child has a severe infection with a high temperature, has a bleeding problem or bruises easily, has breathing difficulties, is taking any other medicines, or recently received any other vaccine. Common side effects include irritability, fever, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and pain, redness, bleeding or swelling at the injection site. If your infant or child has side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist, or health professional. Additional Consumer Medicine Information for Synflorix is available at Ask your doctor if Synflorix is right for your infant or child. Synflorix is a registered trade mark of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies. Marketed by GlaxoSmithKline NZ Limited, Auckland. TAPS NA6034-12OC.

Adverse events involving GlaxoSmithKline products should be reported to GSK Medical Information on 0800 808 500.


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