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Ear infections and the Breastfed Baby

Risk Factors; Symptoms; Treatment; The Concern About Antibiotics; Alternative Treatments; How Breastfeeding Makes a Difference, Additional Information (links)

Ear infection, or otitis media, is an infection or inflammation of the middle ear. An ear infection is more likely to develop when baby has a stuffy nose, or cold symptoms, (note that these symptoms may be symptoms of a food allergy, not just a common cold) . which can result in blocking the Eustachian tube, the little tube that goes from the ear to the throat. Once the Eustachian tube is blocked, fluid builds up in the middle ear and this fluid can become infected by bacteria. The end result is a middle ear infection, or otitis media.

Risk Factors

Ear infections are more likely to happen in the fall, winter, and spring, coinciding with the cold and flu season. Other factors that increase the risk of baby getting an ear infection include:

~baby being in daycare setting

~baby being in an environment where cigarette smoke is prevalent

~sensitivity to cow's milk products and other environmental allergies.

~pacifier use

Symptoms of an ear infection may include:

~increased fussiness, and unexplained crying

~tugging at ears

~increased night waking

~lack of interest in nursing or eating solids

~crying once nursing begins (sucking can cause pain in the fluid filled ear)

Treatment of the Ear Infection

Typically when a baby or toddler has an ear infection, mom notes the symptoms, and takes baby to the doctor. Doctor sees the red ear, or fluid filled ear, and may prescribe antibiotics, and pain medication.

It is important at this point to note that fluid filled ears are not always "infected" ears, and antibiotics will not help unless there is bacterial infection. Antibiotics DO have a place in our health care system, but they may not always be necessary for treatment of an ear infection.

The Concern About Antibiotics

There is a concern that antibiotics are being over-prescribed. Overuse of antibiotics for children's infections is resulting in stronger strains of bacteria that will one day make antibiotics useless. It is important to try and work with your doctor to use antibiotics only when absolutely needed. In her book, No More Antibiotics, Dr Mary Ann Block explains how and when to use antibiotics, and how to resolve fluid buildup in the ear. (with the use of OMT.)

Dr Block also has a video "Treat Ear and Respiratory Infection WITHOUT Antibiotics Using Osteopathic Principles, Practices and Gentle Massage" that explains more about her techniques in dealing with ear infections. In this video Dr. Block demonstrates gentle techniques based on a century-old philosophy of osteopathic medicine. Dr. Block developed the gentle massage treatment and she also taught her massage treatment to medical students when she was an associate professor at the medical school. This technique helps to drain ears and upper respiratory tract and boost the immune system without antibiotics. Dr. Block explains, in easy-to-understand terms, what you can do at home to treat and help prevent future infections.

Alternative Treatments for Fluid in Ears (aka "ear infection")

There are several ways to help reduce the risk of your child having an ear infection, and also to help heal an infection without using antibiotics.

It is important to go over the possible underlying causes of ear infections when looking at alternative treatments. This is because the symptom (the infection) can be treated, and resolved - at least temporarily - but if the underlying cause is not resolved, the infection usually will reoccur. This is especially true in the instances of allergies. Treating the infection does little good if the source of the infection is not removed.

Choices in alternative treatments include:

~Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

OMT, or Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, is a very gentle form of osteopathic manipulation. It is effective when used to keep the fluids draining from the head and neck so bacteria and viruses are less likely to be able to grow, and this in turn helps reduce or even prevent chronic ear and respiratory infections.

To learn how to do OMT, parents can order Dr Blocks book, No More Antibiotics, (the book is very reasonably priced at around $6.00), and/or order the video "Treat Ear and Respiratory Infection WITHOUT Antibiotics Using Osteopathic Principles, Practices and Gentle Massage"; or they can ask their family doctor, or a Doctor of Osteopathy (identified by the initials "DO") for more information on how to do it.

~Craniosacral Therapy

~Chiropractic Treatment


~Holistic Treatments

~ Dietary adjustments

With a little searching you should be able to find a professional who provides alternative treatments.

How Breastfeeding Makes a Difference:

Most experts agree that one of the best ways to reduce risk of an ear infection in an infant, is to breastfeed. Studies have shown that breastfed babies have less instances of ear infections, than their formula fed peers.

Breastfeeding decreases the risk of ear infections (otitis media) for a variety of reasons. Forward suckling action will get a good bit of credit for this result when it is studied, because the forward posturing of the mandible has effects from the front of the jaws to the jaw joints; and to the ears and ear canal formation

Dr Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC, has noted that breastfed babies get fewer ear infections for a combination of reasons:

1. The antibodies in breastmilk line the mucosa of the respiratory tract and prevent invasion and multiplication of possibly infectious bacteria, and viruses. Cultures of the throats and noses of babies who are breastfed show fewer cultures of non typable H. Influenza, probably still the most common bacterial cause of ear infections, along with pneumococci, which are also less found in the nasopharynx of the breastfed baby. Breastmilk fed babies who have cleft palates, have fewer infections than formula fed babies who have cleft palates, which suggests it is not just the bottle.

2. The positioning of the baby may have an influence, which is different in breastfed babies.

3. Breastfeeding mothers have more confidence in themselves and surer of their babies. They take their babies to doctors less, I would bet. Don't take a baby to the doctor for a cold or fever, and you don't get a diagnosis of ear infection. (Being cynical again, but a lot of ear infections are actually *some* physicians' way of not having to explain why the child's problem is a viral infection which will probably get better all on it's own).

Dr David C. Page, D.D.S. has recently written a book, Your Jaws ~ Your life that offers more information on how by breastfeeding, proper jaw development is promoted, and this helps reduce ear infections. In addition to ear infections, proper jaw development influences other health issues as well.

Dr Page notes that most MDs get 0 to 60 minutes of dental instruction in med school, so they usually don't spend much time looking in the mouth. Dentists (DDSs) get much medical basic training, BUT they spend little or no time looking in ears (something Dr Page has done for over 10 years). So there is a very large void in knowledge between the mouth and ears.

Dr Page notes several ear facts, most of which he has multiple citation backing (printed here with permission):


FACT: Acute and chronic ear disease causation remains very much a "mystery" of unknown origin to medicine.

FACT: ENTs admit in their teaching books they DO NOT KNOW HOW, using current methods, to stop or cure (chronic/acute ear disease).

FACT: OM=Otitis Media is the #1 reason for all pediatric and pediatric ENT visits.

FACT: About 1/3 of ALL prescription drugs are given out for ear "infections".

FACT: ONLY about 30% of acute & chronic ear fluids test positive for bacteria when cultured, usually studied from tube placement.

FACT: about 2/98 a $1 million-dollar grant went to research to find "phantom" bacteria.

FACT: about 5/98 the scientific community called for a reduction in the over-prescribing of drugs...especially antibiotics.

FACT: about 10/98 MDs blamed parent "requests" (Mothers) as a principal reason for giving out so many antibiotics.

FACT: MDs are responsible for prescribing drugs....mothers are not....even if they ask for them.

FACT: Ear fluids are primarily a result of inflammation....not viral or bacterial causation....not even mRNA footprint searches can find enough bacterial trails.

FACT: Ear "infections" are anatomy related and a secondary result of inflammation

FACT: Chronic ear fluids often become more sterile when left alone without drugs.

FACT: PACIFIER use increases OM...from the backward jaw effect... NOT bacterial transmission & OM decreases just when pacifier is taken away.

FACT: About 100,000 ear GROMMETS "tubes" are placed manage ear the U.S. alone.

FACT: Dental treatment Stops....i.e. CURES ear disease from OM to Mennieres quickly and highly efficaciously.

FACT: WHY: BECAUSE MOST EAR DISEASE, acute and chronic is caused by

FACT: Eustachian tube theory is NOT a primary cause of ear proven by "sniff" studies.

FACT: When the teeth come into the mouth the children "gum their gums" and unsupported jaw joints take the excessive forces creating inflammation in those with the anatomical disposition to have OM...and then get OM whether symptomatic or not.

FACT: By OVER-MEDICATING for 20-30 years we have created a generation of HYPER-ALLERGIC children and an assortment of SUPER GERMS we all now have to fight.

FACT: Breastfeeding decreases OM, usually, for a variety of reasons. Forward suckling action will get a good bit of credit for this result when it is studied, as forward posturing of the mandible has effects from the front of the jaws to the jaw joints, and to the ears and ear canal formation.

For additional information on how proper jaw development and alignment influences health, including reduction or elimination of ear infections, please see Dr Page's websie at

Additionally, the book, Your Jaws ~ Your life certainly is an excellent investment for a parent to make.

For more information you may contact Dr Page here:

David C. Page, D.D.S.
SmilePage Publishing
8508 Loch Raven Blvd.,
Baltimore, MD 21286 USA
Ph: 410-296-7222
Fx: 410-296-7224

Additional Information: Ear inf & Antibiotics

(Cows milk and ear infections )
(acute form - bacterial - antibiotics will work, viral - no)
(homeopathic remedies)
(holistic listings)

Copyright 2000 - 2003  Jim Yount

Send email to Paula Yount for any questions or comments about this site.

Disclaimer:  The pages contained herein are meant purely for informational purposes and every effort is made to provide accurate and up-to-date information. This information, however, is not meant to take the place of your doctor, nor should the information contained on this web site be considered specific medical advice with respect to any specific person and/or any specific condition. The author, therefore respectfully but specifically disclaims any liability, loss or risk - personal or otherwise - that is, or may be, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from use or application of any of the information provided on this web site.