Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Vitamin D Link to Ear Infections

From Natural Products Foundation Health Notes
by Kimberly Beauchamp, ND

Taking extra vitamin D during the winter months might help prevent ear infections in children who are prone to them, reports a study in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

Most cases of otitis media originate from a viral infection, such as the common cold. Doctors may prescribe prophylactic antibiotics for children with frequent ear infections, but this isn’t always effective and can lead to antibiotic resistance.

Studies have shown that vitamin D has profound effects on the immune system, and low levels are tied to an increased risk of respiratory infections.

The study looked at 116 children between one and five years old who had a history of recurrent acute otitis media (more than three infections in the last six months or more than four infections in the last year) to see what effect taking vitamin D during the winter had on their risk of developing future ear infections. The children were given either 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day or placebo for four months.  Blood levels of vitamin D were similar (in the “insufficient” range) in both groups at the beginning of the study.

Significantly fewer children in the vitamin D group experienced uncomplicated ear infections compared with those in the placebo group.  (Read the entire article.)

Besides vitamin D, some other promising strategies for preventing childhood ear infections are on the horizon.

One of these is a nonabsorbable sugar called xylitol. The substance is widely used in chewing gum and added to toothpaste as a sweetener that has the added benefit of cavity prevention. Recent studies have shown that xylitol, taken as syrup or chewed as gum, can significantly reduce the number of ear infections in susceptible children, also decreasing the need for antibiotics to treat infections.

(Pediatr Infect Dis J 2013;DOI: 10.1097/INF.0b013e31829be0b0)

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