GlaxoSmithKlineFriday 18 May 2012, 1:52PM
Media release from GlaxoSmithKline
18 May 2012: The true burden of childhood ear infections on parents
and families has been highlighted for the first time in a global
study of 2,867 caregivers, which included over 250 New Zealand
It is estimated that 80 percent of children aged under three will
have at least one episode of acute middle ear infection, with
around 83,000 new episodes in New Zealand children under
In assessing what this means for family life, the Ear Infections
Attitudes Research (EAR) study found that as well as the
strain of sleepless nights, days off work and GP visits, parents
were worried about treatment options and more than two thirds
were concerned about antibiotic resistance.
Presenting the results of the study at a meeting of the European
Society of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology (ESPO) on May 20 in
Amsterdam, leading New Zealand Paediatric Ear Nose and Throat
Surgeon, Dr Colin Barber, said the work showed the sheer scale of
what the common infections meant for families and the need for this
to be considered in health services planning.
"This study has been a reminder that ear infections place a
significant burden on New Zealand children and their families and
also on the resources of the healthcare system. Many parents'
concerns were held in common internationally, with eight out of 10
New Zealand parents considering acute middle ear infection to be a
significant burden on their child."
"The good news is that as we continue to monitor the burden of
middle ear disease, we are anticipating that the number of GP
consultations for ear infections will come down as the number of
New Zealand children who are immunised increases."
Included in the New Zealand National Immunisation Schedule last
year, the vaccine Synflorix protects against pneumococcal
meningitis and pneumonia, and covers up to 80 percent of the
bacteria that can cause ear infections.3-7
Dr Barber says, "We are hoping that vaccination will reduce the
number of ear infection thereby reducing the suffering and
pain children often go through when they have ear infections. It's
also positive news for parents that vaccination may go some way to
alleviating long term side effects of ear infections in some
children, such as hearing impairment and delayed speech
The GlaxoSmithKline sponsored research was undertaken in 12
countries including Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada
as well as New Zealand.
Key findings of study:
• At least three quarters of parents said that
during their child's ear infection sleepless nights placed a
significant strain on them.
• Two thirds of parents of children who suffered
acute middle ear infection were either absent from work or had to
rearrange working hours.
• More than two thirds of parents were concerned
about rising antibiotic resistance.
• More than 80 percent of parents considered
acute ear infection to be a significant burden on their
• Two thirds of parents considered that worry
about their child's recovery was a significant strain.