Public Release: 

Air quality improvements over the last decade may be a factor in fewer ear infections

New research released at world's largest ENT meeting

American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

San Diego, CA - Strides in improving the nation's air quality over the past ten years may be a factor in fewer cases of ear infections (otitis media) in children. These results are according to new research presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO, in San Diego, CA.

The study, which used National Health Interview Survey data of 120,060 children from 1997-2006, measured how many instances occurred in the previous year for three disease conditions: frequent otitis media (FOM, 3 or more ear infections in the previous 12 months), respiratory allergy, and seizure activity. These numbers were cross-referenced with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality data over the same period. The authors discovered that as air quality improved, the number of cases of FOM decreased.

The authors believe their research has both medical and political significance. They believe it confirms the benefit of the revised Clean Air Act of 1990, which gave the EPA more authority to implement and enforce regulations reducing air pollutant emissions. They also believe it shows, on a large population-based scale, that these improvements may have direct benefit on health quality measures such as otitis media.

Otitis media is one of the most common illnesses among children, with annual direct and indirect costs in the $3-5 billion.


Title: Air Quality Improvement and the Prevalence of Ear Infections
Author: Nina L. Shapiro, MD; Neil Bhattacharyya, MD
Date: Wednesday, October 7, 2009, 8:00-9:20 am

Information for the Media: The AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO Newsroom will be located in the San Diego Convention Center, Mezzanine Level, Room 14A. Hours of operation: Saturday, October 3, 12 pm to 5 pm; Sunday-Tuesday, October 4- 6, 7:30 am to 5 pm; and Wednesday, October 7, 7:30 am to 2 pm (all hours Pacific time). The newsroom serves as a work space for credentialed members of the news media. The newsroom is managed and staffed by the AAO-HNS Communications Unit. Please see the AAO-HNS website for media credentialing requirements for the event.

Onsite Newsroom contact: 1-619-525-6202

About the AAO-HNS

The American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (, one of the oldest medical associations in the nation, represents more than 12,000 physicians and allied health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. The Academy serves its members by facilitating the advancement of the science and art of medicine related to otolaryngology and by representing the specialty in governmental and socioeconomic issues. The organization's vision: "Empowering otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons to deliver the best patient care."

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