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How can you prevent ear infections in children



Bruce Hunt, M.D.
Board Certified in Family Practice

"Most parents don’t have to be told that middle ear infections – also known as otitis media – are one of the most common illnesses affecting infants and young children. Three out of four American children have had at least one ear infection by age 3," says Bruce Hunt, M.D., who practices family medicine with Baptist Medical Associates (Taylorsville).

You can’t protect your child completely from ear infections. But Dr. Hunt says you can reduce your child’s risk by taking the following actions:

  • Choose a small child-care setting, if possible. Children in child care are more likely to have ear infections than children who are cared for at home. And the more young children there are in a child-care setting, the greater are the chances that your child will catch a cold that leads to an infection.
  • Protect your child from secondhand smoke. Children who breathe secondhand smoke are far more likely to develop ear infections.
  • Breast-feed your baby for at least four months. Infants who are bottle-fed are more likely to develop ear infections than are babies who are breast-fed. Breast-feeding helps by passing along immunity that protects against middle ear infections.
  • Ask your doctor about the pneumococcal 7-valent conjugate vaccine (Prevnar). This vaccine prevents the seven most common subtypes of the pneumococcal bacterium found among children.

"Most children stop having multiple ear infections by the time they reach school age," Hunt adds.