Ear Tubes in Children Questioned

In an April 19, 2001 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine is a report that concludes that for children younger than three years of age who have persistent otitis media, prompt insertion of tympanostomy tubes does not measurably improve developmental outcomes. The story, also reported in the April 18, 2001 issue of MSNBC.com also reinforces the problem with this procedure at an early age.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery estimates that 700,000 children undergo the procedure each year at an estimated cost of $2,000 each. The tubes have been used since the early 1960s. The stated purpose that these tubes are inserted in the eardrums is supposedly to help clear the fluid that can build up in a child’s middle ear during an infection and to prevent further infections.

Researchers in Pittsburgh looked at two groups of toddlers: those who got ear tubes after three months of fluid in their ears, the standard guideline, and those who waited up to nine months before tubes were inserted. The children were tested for speech, language, learning and behavior when they turned 3. The chief researcher, Dr. Jack L. Paradise of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, summed up the results as follows, “The bottom line was there wasn’t any difference in the developmental outcomes as best we could measure them at age 3.”

Several Chiropractic studies have suggested the benefits of chiropractic care for children with recurrent ear infections. An article published in the March 1998 edition of Alternative Therapies based on a study authored by Drs. Fallon and Edelman, concluded, “There is a strong correlation between chiropractic adjustment and the resolution of otitis media for the children in this study”.