Swedish researchers are spearheading a truly counterintuitive approach to heading off recurrent ear infections in youngsters. They're spraying bacteria into children's noses.
Roughly 1 in every 20 kids is prone to ear infections, also known as otitis media. From infancy through their toddler years, these children can average six or more bouts annually.
Ironically, the antibiotics used to treat these bacterial infections often wipe out beneficial bacteria that would otherwise compete with, or even kill, the pathogens. By replacing some of the depleted germ-inhibiting bacteria, a researcher at Lundby Hospital in Gothenburg hoped to turn this situation around.
Kristian Roos and his coworkers started by formulating solutions charged with five species of beneficial alpha-streptococcus bacteria that had been harvested from the eustachian tubes of healthy children at a day care center. These tubes, which connect the nasopharynx and middle ear, provide a conduit through w