Ear infections linked to passive smoking

May 19, 2008

A new report from Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research has found a strong link between childhood ear infections and exposure to tobacco smoke. The results are published in the latest edition of the Medical Journal of Australia.

The families of 100 Aboriginal children and 180 non-Aboriginal children participated in the Kalgoorlie Otitis Media Research Project, allowing the collection of social, demographic, environmental and biological data to investigate the causes of otitis media (middle ear infections). The children had regular ear examinations from birth until 2 years of age.

Chief Investigator Dr Deborah Lehmann, who heads the Institute’s infectious diseases research, said ear infections were the most common reason that young children see a doctor and can cause life-long problems.

“Up to 20 per cent of children have more than three ear infections between 1 and 2 years of age. If their hearing is damaged, it can seriously affect their educational outcomes and social circumstances in adulthood,” Dr Lehmann said.

“In Aboriginal children, these ear infections typically start at a younger age, are much more common and more likely to result in hearing loss.”

Key findings from the project include:

-- Otitis media was diagnosed at least once in 74% of Aboriginal children and 45% of non-Aboriginal children.

-- 64% of Aboriginal children and 40% of non-Aboriginal children were exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.

-- If we eliminated exposure to tobacco smoke we estimate that we could reduce ear infections by 27% in Aboriginal children and 16% in non-Aboriginal children

-- The impact of passive smoking in the home on ear infections was reduced if the children also attended day care.

Dr Lehmann said there is evidence that passive smoking can increase the adherence of bacteria in the respiratory passages and depress the immune system.

“These results highlight the importance of reducing children’s exposure to passive smoking, and this is particularly important for Aboriginal people where the rates of both smoking and otitis media are high,” she said.

“Few Aboriginal children have access to formal childcare despite studies showing that it is an effective way to improve early development and educational outcomes for disadvantaged children. The fact that it could also reduce the burden of ear infections in Aboriginal children adds weight to calls for appropriate childcare facilities to be provided.”

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: US scientists try first gene editing in the body

Related Stories

US scientists try first gene editing in the body

November 15, 2017
Scientists for the first time have tried editing a gene inside the body in a bold attempt to permanently change a person's DNA to try to cure a disease.

Stopping children getting unnecessary antibiotics for colds and sore throats

October 26, 2017
A collaboration between UK, Canadian and Chinese scientists has helped to reduce the over-prescription of unneeded antibiotics to children in rural China, according to research published today in Lancet Global Health.

With severe flu season lurking, shots a must

October 27, 2017
(HealthDay)—Early signs suggest that the United States will see a severe flu season, so it's especially important for Americans to get their shots, health experts say.

Cloth caps more effective than disposable caps at preventing contamination in the OR

October 26, 2017
One of the first studies testing the effectiveness of different operating room (OR) head coverings in preventing airborne contamination has found that surgeon's caps that expose small amounts of the ears and hair are not ...

Screen children with reading difficulties for hearing problems, says report

October 6, 2017
Children with reading difficulties should be more thoroughly screened for hearing problems, a new report by Coventry University academics has said.

'Microbiomes' may hold key to kids' ear infections

September 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—Recurrent ear infections are the bane of many children—and the parents who have to deal with their care.

Recommended for you

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

How pomegranate extract alters breast cancer stem cell properties

November 15, 2017
A University at Albany research team has found evidence suggesting that the same antioxidant that gives pomegranate fruit their vibrant red color can alter the characteristics of breast cancer stem cells, showing the superfood's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.