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Kiwi families help in battle against childhood earache

Media release

Kiwi families help in battle against childhood earache

18 May 2012: The true burden of childhood ear infections on parents and families has been highlighted for the first time in a global study of 2,867 caregivers, which included over 250 New Zealand families.

It is estimated that 80 percent of children aged under three will have at least one episode of acute middle ear infection, with around 83,000 new episodes in New Zealand children under five.1,2

In assessing what this means for family life, the Ear Infections Attitudes Research (EAR) study found that as well as the strain of sleepless nights, days off work and GP visits, parents were worried about treatment options and more than two thirds were concerned about antibiotic resistance.

Presenting the results of the study at a meeting of the European Society of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology (ESPO) on May 20 in Amsterdam, leading New Zealand Paediatric Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon, Dr Colin Barber, said the work showed the sheer scale of what the common infections meant for families and the need for this to be considered in health services planning.

“This study has been a reminder that ear infections place a significant burden on New Zealand children and their families and also on the resources of the healthcare system. Many parents’ concerns were held in common internationally, with eight out of 10 New Zealand parents considering acute middle ear infection to be a significant burden on their child.”

“The good news is that as we continue to monitor the burden of middle ear disease, we are anticipating that the number of GP consultations for ear infections will come down as the number of New Zealand children who are immunised increases.”

Included in the New Zealand National Immunisation Schedule last year, the vaccine Synflorix protects against pneumococcal meningitis and pneumonia, and covers up to 80 percent of the bacteria that can cause ear infections.3-7

Dr Barber says, “We are hoping that vaccination will reduce the number of ear infection thereby reducing the suffering and pain children often go through when they have ear infections. It’s also positive news for parents that vaccination may go some way to alleviating long term side effects of ear infections in some children, such as hearing impairment and delayed speech development.”

The GlaxoSmithKline sponsored research was undertaken in 12 countries including Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada as well as New Zealand.

Key findings of study:

· At least three quarters of parents said that during their child’s ear infection sleepless nights placed a significant strain on them.

· Two thirds of parents of children who suffered acute middle ear infection were either absent from work or had to rearrange working hours.

· More than two thirds of parents were concerned about rising antibiotic resistance.

· More than 80 percent of parents considered acute ear infection to be a significant burden on their child.

· Two thirds of parents considered that worry about their child’s recovery was a significant strain.


© Scoop Media

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