Each year, more than 5,000 Maori and Pacific Island children are hospitalized with serious ear infections which can lead to permanent hearing loss if the infections aren’t treated, according to a study carried out by Dr Helen Petousis-Harris, Senior Lecturer from Dept General Practice and Primary Health Care of the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
One-in-ten Maori and Pacific Island children will fail hearing checks when they start school, the study says. A number that is twice as high as New Zealand European children. But a new vaccination helps to reduce for example middle ear infections.
“Our study found that vaccination appears to play a role in reducing the high levels of ear infection in young children we currently have in New Zealand”, says Dr Helen Petousis-Harris.
Since the introduction of the vaccine, the rates in Maori and Pacific Island children have fallen more than any other group.
Parents must act quickly
According to leading surgeon, Dr Colin Barber, parents of Maori and Pacific Island children need to be more vigilant in monitoring their children for ear infections since it is critical that ear infections are addressed as early as possible to prevent long term developmental impacts in Maori and Pacific Island children.
“Eight out of ten children will suffer from ear infections by the age of three. Ear infections account for 83,000 GP consultations annually in New Zealand along with the time two-thirds of the parents must take off work to tend to their sick children, carries a significant economic cost to the country”, says Dr Colin Barber.