Using antibiotics to treat newly diagnosed acute ear infections among children is modestly more effective than no treatment, but comes with a risk of side effects, according to a new study designed to help advise efforts to rewrite treatment guidelines for the common illness
Researchers found no evidence that name-brand antibiotics work any better in general than generic antibiotics and that careful examination of the eardrum by a clinician for signs of infection is critical for accurate diagnosis of acute ear infections. The study is published in the Nov. 17 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Our findings reinforce the existing knowledge that the best antibiotic treatment for common childhood ear infections may be no antibiotic treatment at all," said lead author Dr. Tumaini R. Coker, a pediatrician at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and a researcher at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization.
"Prescribing antibiotics early may help cure ear infections a little bit faster, but also raises the risk that children will suffer antibiotic-related side effects such as a rash or diarrhea," Coker said. "Parents and their children may value these different outcomes differently."
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