New Vaccine Could Eliminate Ear Infections All-Together

If your child suffers from painful earaches, listen up. There may be relief on the way.

Doctors are now working on a vaccine that could completely prevent bacterial ear infections.

Eighty-three-percent of children in the United States suffer from one or more ear infections by the age of three.

They are not usually life threatening, but what if we could prevent them altogether?

New Mother Kris Borrelli says, "Oh, I think it would be great, lots of less sleepless nights. The kids would be healthier."

Researchers from the University of Rochester hope to develop a new vaccine aimed at wiping out bacterial ear and sinus infections.

The first step: A new study to learn why some children are more susceptible to ear infections than others.

Dr. Michael Pichichero of the University of Rochester Medical Center explains, "The ingredients for the vaccine are individual proteins we have known about for almost two decades. The step forward we need is to understand the natural immune response of individuals as they remain protected against these infections."

Almost seven million kids went to the doctor for ear infections in 2004, costing $5 billion dollars in treatment and lost wages for parents annually.

Much of that money is spent on antibiotics, which recent studies have suggested are overused for treating ear infections.

Although a viable vaccine is still a few years away, it could eventually erase those concerns.

"We hope that this will really make a big difference for families with children and adults who have these recurrent respiratory infections,” says Dr. Pichichero. “If we're successful, we will have eliminated all the main reasons that individuals need an antibiotic," plus, take away some of the pain of growing up.

Ear and sinus infections are a leading cause of childhood hearing loss.

Clinical trials for the new vaccine could begin as early as next year.

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