With the emergence of new strains of drug-resistant bacteria, red caution flags are being waved against what some call the over-medication of children. And now, a new study published in Pediatrics suggests that an antibiotic-free alternative may be just as effective in the treatment of AOM.
Researches gathered 223 children, ages 6 months to 12 years, who exhibited non-severe AOM. The children were split into two, random groups. Group ONE was treated with antibiotics (ABX; amoxicillin plus symptom medication). Group TWO children were treated with basic symptom medication but were not given antibiotics.

At the beginning of this study all children were examined for the severity of their AOM and results were recorded. Also, parents of children in group TWO received information about the perceived risk and benefits of non-antibiotic treatment and how to recognize if an AOM infection increased in severity.
At the end of the 30-day study, all children were examined again and results were compared. Here’s what they found:

Children taking antibiotics needed fewer doses of pain medication than the children in Group TWO who relied only on pain medication for treatment. However, the strains of streptococcus pneumonia bacteria obtained from the children who took antibiotics were more likely to be drug-resistant than the strains taken from the children who did not use antibiotics.

What’s more, parent satisfaction scores among both groups were nearly identical. What wasn’t identical was the cost of treatment. Treatment for children in Group TWO was $35.98 less per patient, when compared to the cost of antibiotics taken by children in Group ONE.

In conclusion, many Chiropractors believe that children who are not given antibiotics for ear infections are allowed to build more permanent immunity, allowing them to have fewer recurrent ear infections.

[Source: Pediatrics June 2005;115(6):1455-1465.]