Recent data indicates that various factors, such as viral upper respiratory tract infections and lack of breastfeeding, can increase the risk for acute otitis media (AOM) in children by age 1.

“We determined the prevalence of viral [upper respiratory tract infection (URTI)] and its complications, including acute otitis media (AOM) and [lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI)], and assessed the effect of bacterial-viral interactions, and genetic and environmental risks on acute otitis media development,” Tasnee Chonmaitree, MD, of the departments of pediatrics and pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch, and colleagues wrote. “We clearly showed that frequent viral infections, bacterial colonization, and lack of breast-feeding are major AOM risk factors.”

The researchers followed 367 healthy infants from birth to age 1 year for AOM development. Nasopharyngeal samples were collected at ages 1 to 6 months and at 9 months to determine bacterial colonization and for PCR studies. Samples also were collected during any diagnosed viral URIs.

Data showed that 887 URTIs occurred in 305 study participants with 108 cases of AOM in 143 infants. Children with AOM had 4.7 URTIs per child-year compared with 2.3 URIs per child-year among children without AOM (P < .002).

The researchers found that pathogenic bacterial colonization rates were greater in children with AOM vs. children without (P < .005). The results also indicated that breast-feeding reduced the risk for URTIs and AOM (P <.05).

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