Why babies suffer ear infections

Why babies seem to have a predisposition to chronic ear infections is not entirely clear, but the fact that the infant's eustachian tube is more "floppy" than that in adults and is in an almost horizontal position between the ear and nose, compared to the more acute angle of the adult's eustachian tube, may be part of the answer. The horizontal position of the infant's eustachian tube increases the incidence of bacteria-laden secretions in the middle ear.

The baby's eustachian tube is further compromised by the fact that they spend so much time lying down. Bottle-fed babies have a higher incidence of otitis media than breast-fed babies -- especially when bottle-propping is practiced I because swallowing while lying down causes the entrance of nasopharyngeal materials into the eustachian tube.

Thus, in addition to the psychologic benefits of nurturing, mothers who hold their babies in a more vertical position during bottle feeding keep the milk carrying bacteria from the mouth and nose into the mastoid and middle ear. (From Medical Times, 10/79. p.28).

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