MEDICINE Mothers warned off antibiotics

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Antibiotics are best avoided in children with ear ache because they do not bring quicker relief and contribute to the growth of resistant organisms, researchers say.

Three out of 10 children under the age of three get the ear infection known as otitis media and 97 per cent are given antibiotics. But a review of seven trials comparing antibiotic therapy with placebo, published in the British Medical Journal , found there was little evidence that those given antibiotics recovered more quickly, had fewer recurrences or a had a better long-term outcome. The researchers, from Boston University in the US, say the use of antibiotics in the condition results in the emergence of resistant organisms in the children and in the community. Ear ache is better treated with painkillers, especially where the diagnosis is uncertain, they say. Jeremy Laurance