Current management of pediatric acute otitis media Academic Article uri icon


  • Acute otitis media (AOM) is the most common childhood bacterial infection for which antibiotics are prescribed worldwide. The most common pathogens causing AOM in children are Streptococcus pneumoniae, nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis and Group A streptococcus. Antibiotic resistance is increasing among the bacterial pathogens causing AOM, with percentages of penicillin- and macrolide-resistant S. pneumoniae strains estimated to be between 30 and 70%, and of beta-lactamase-producing H. influenzae ranging between 20 and 40%. The introduction of the seven-valent pneumococcal conjugated vaccine had a major role in decreasing the number of vaccine-related S. pneumoniae AOM episodes, recurrent AOM cases and cases requiring the insertion of ventilation tubes. In parallel, it caused a rapid shift in the microbiology of AOM, characterized by an increase in the number of non-vaccine S. pneumoniae serotypes and H. influenzae isolates. The management of AOM in childhood has evolved considerably during recent years as a result of the new insights provided by the publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians guidelines for the treatment of AOM. The new treatment guidelines establish a clear hierarchy among various antibacterials used in the treatment of AOM and also the use of an age-stratified approach to AOM by recommending an observation strategy ('watchful waiting') without the use of antibacterials for some groups of AOM patients. Adherence to such a policy in patients with uncertain/questionable AOM diagnosis and/or mild-to-moderate symptoms, in addition to its implementation in patients over 2 years of age, could substantially reduce the use of antibacterials for the treatment of AOM and play a major role in the strategy of decreasing antibacterial resistance.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010