Last Updated: 2008-02-18 16:00:03 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – In children with acute otitis media, antibiotic therapy does not prevent the development of asymptomatic middle ear effusion, results of a meta-analysis indicate.

Laura Koopman, at University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a literature search for randomized, controlled trials involving children up to age 12 with acute otitis media, evaluating the effect of antibiotic treatment on middle ear effusion 1 month later.

They performed a meta-analysis of individual patient data from five trials, involving 1328 children ages 6 months to 12 years.

According to their report in the February Archives of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, antibiotic treatment was found to reduce the overall risk of asymptomatic middle ear effusion by a nonsignificant 10%.

Children below age 2 and those with recurrent acute otitis media were at increased risk of developing middle ear effusion (OR 2.2 and 1.5, respectively). However, no subgroup experienced significant benefit from the use of antibiotics.

"We do not recommend prescribing antibiotics to prevent middle ear effusion," Koopman’s team concludes. "However, more research is needed to identify relevant subgroups of children who have middle ear effusion that might benefit from other treatments."

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2008;134:128-132.

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