Ear Protection: Combo vaccine prevents some infections

12:39pm, March 8, 2006

A vaccine that triggers immunity against two common bacteria can prevent many ear infections in babies, a European team of researchers reports.

Middle ear infections send roughly 20 million U.S. children, most of them infants, to the doctor every year. Recurrent infections sometimes lead to partial hearing loss and can require surgical implantation of tubes to improve fluid drainage.

In their test, the scientists enrolled about 4,900 healthy infants visiting 50 clinics across the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The team randomly assigned half the babies to get the new vaccine, called Streptorix, in four doses, starting around 3 months of age and ending by 15 months. As a control group, the other babies got shots that protect against hepatitis A but not ear infections.

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