Katherine A. Poehling, M.D., a pediatrician at Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and a team of researchers followed about 27,000 children in New York and 150,000 children in Tennessee from birth to two years old who were born after the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) was licensed. The vaccine was approved to help protect children from potentially deadly strains of meningitis and other pneumococcal diseases such as ear infections.
Poehling found that, during the time that vaccine coverage increased, the number of vaccinated children who developed frequent ear infections and/or received ear tubes declined by 16 percent in Tennessee and 25 percent in New York.
"This vaccine has benefited both children and adults since being introduced into the vaccination schedule," Poehling said. "We have seen declines in the incidence of serious infections such as pneumococcal meningitis in both children and adults, as well as the number of children developing frequent ear infections."
Ear infections are one of the most common infections in children. Before the vaccine was introduced into the vaccination schedule, about one-third of ear infections were caused by the pneumococcal bacteria.
"While most children have at least one ear infection by their second birthday, 25 to 30 percent of children will develop frequent ear infections, or about three or four each year," Poehling said. Many of these children – about one of every 15 to 25 children -- will end up with ear tubes by the age of two, she said.
"Although these results are very exciting, we need to carefully monitor the trends in ear infections because pnuemococcal strains not included in the vaccine may increase and potentially diminish these gains," she said. The PCV7 vaccine only protects against seven virulent strains of pneumococcal bacteria from 90 known strains.
MEDICA.de; Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center