|Vaccine for Ear Infections - Science Insider
Reported September 2007
BACKGROUND: A new vaccine can help reduce the number of infants and toddlers who develop frequent ear infections. It has been available since 2000, but a new study demonstrates its effectiveness against seven especially virulent strains of the bacteria causing such infections.
WHAT THEY FOUND: A team of researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston Salem, N.C. tracked some 27,000 children in New York and 150,000 children in Tennessee from birth to age two -- all born after a vaccine was approved by the FDA to help protect children from potentially deadly strains of meningitis and other pneumococcal (a type of bacteria) diseases such as ear infections. The children received four doses of the vaccine: at two months, four months, six months and between 12 months to15 months. The researchers found the number of children who developed frequent ear infections declined by 16 percent in Tennessee and 25 percent in New York after receiving the vaccine. They also found declines in the incidence of serious cases of pneumococcal meningitis on both children and adults. Most children develop at least one ear infection by their second birthday and 25 percent to 30 percent will experience frequent infections. Of those, one in every 15 to 25 will need to have ear tubes implanted by age two. Before the vaccine was introduced, about one-third of ear infections were caused by the pneumococcal bacteria. However, there are 90 known strains of the bacteria. The vaccine only protects against seven of them.
HOW VACCINES WORK: Whenever a disease-causing micro-organism enters the body, the immune system mounts a defense, producing proteins to fight off the foreign substance. Vaccines stimulate the body's immune system by introducing a weakened form of a particular germ or virus, making the body think it is being invaded by a foreign organism. If a person who has been vaccinated is exposed later to the virus, he or she will be protected because the body already has the necessary antibodies to ward off infection.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Rae Bush (PAO)
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center