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Disparities Exist for Ear Infections Among Children

White children and those in poverty more likely to have frequent ear infections than others

THURSDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Disparities exist across racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups in the prevalence of childhood frequent ear infections, with white children and those living below the poverty line more likely to report such infections, according to research published in the August issue of Laryngoscope.

Kalpesh T. Vakharia, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed age, sex, insurance status, income level, and race/ethnicity data on children who were reported by their parents or guardians to have had three or more ear infections in the last year. Data were drawn from the National Health Interview Survey from 1997 to 2006.

The researchers found that, of an annualized population of 72.6 million children, frequent ear infections were reported in 4.65 million. They found frequent ear infections more common in white (7.0 percent) and Hispanic children (6.2 percent) than in black (5.0 percent) or other racial/ethnic groups (4.5 percent) of children, with more cases coming from children in households living below the poverty level (8 percent). Lack of insurance coverage did not appear to be an influential factor in the prevalence of ear infections.

"Despite increasing awareness, there are still notable racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities among children with frequent ear infections. Further efforts to eliminate these disparities and improve the care of children with frequent ear infections are needed," the authors write.

A co-author is a consultant for Intersect ENT and Entellus.

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