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Early childhood ear infections linked to asthma

(NORTHBROOK, IL, May 10, 2004) Children with recurrent ear infections may have an increased risk of developing asthma, says a study published in the May issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians. Study results showed that children with a history of multiple ear infections were twice as likely to suffer from asthma than children with no prior history of ear infections. Researchers also found that parents with higher education levels reported significantly more ear infections in their children than did parents with lower education levels.

"The prevalence of ear infections has increased significantly over the years, paralleling the rise in asthma rates. Our study confirms the association between the two conditions, showing that ear infections in early childhood may lead to asthma later in life," said lead researcher Kamal Eldeirawi, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. "It is possible that specific viruses or bacteria that cause recurrent ear infections may play a major role in the development of asthma. It also is possible that antibiotics that are commonly used to treat ear infections increase the risk of asthma, but more research is needed in this area."

In a cross-sectional study, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago utilized data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted from 1988 to 1994 to examine the association of ear infections with the lifetime prevalence of asthma or the prevalence of wheezing in the past year. The study population included 7,538 children aged 2 to 11 years with complete medical history of asthma, wheezing, and ear infections, as well as data on age, sex, and ethnicity, and parental education level and history of tobacco use. Study results indicated that the rate of ear infections in children was significantly associated with an increased risk o
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Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
jstawarz@chestnet.org
847-498-8306
American College of Chest Physicians
10-May-2004


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