Did you know breastfeeding could be a reason why the likelihood of ear infection in babies in reduced? This is what the researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston reported. The team highlighted that the rate of ear infection has significantly dropped over the last 20 to 30 years.
For American babies aged 3 months old and below, the rate of ear infection decreased by 12 percent, 16 percent for 6-month-olds, and 16 percent for one-year-olds. The major reasons for this development, according to the researchers, are vaccinations, decline in smoking rates, and increased rates of breastfeeding.
Medically known as acute otitis media, ear infection is the most common infection encountered by young children. The condition is also the reason for the increased rates of doctor visits and use of antibiotics among children. They added that repeated ear infections can lead to recurring problems later in life.
For this study, the researchers monitored 367 babies until their first birthday, gathering information in conjunction with instances of respiratory or ear infection. They also obtained mucus samples to check for bacteria or viruses. Other data collected included the babies' family history and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Pediatrics professor Tasnee Chonmaitree, who led the research team, said the leading risk factors for ear infection included frequent colds, nasal bacteria, and not being breastfed. She added that prolonged breastfeeding contributed to better respiratory and ear health.
Breastmilk contains Immunoglobulin A and antibodies, which protect the sensitive membranes from infection.