Evidence in Infants with Cleft Lip and Palate that Breast Milk protects against Otitis Media.

Date: December 1994

[Summary] ((Paradise, J. L., Elster, B., and Lingshi, T. (1994). Evidence in Infants with Cleft Lip and Palate that Breast Milk protects against Otitis Media. Pediatrics, 94 (6): 853-860. December 1994))
This study concluded that artificially fed breast milk provides variable protection against the development of otitis media in infants with cleft palate. The findings also suggested strongly that in infants with cleft palate, impaired eustachian tube function is not the only pathogenetic factor in the infants’ initial development of middle-ear effusion (infection and/or non-infective inflammation – presumably originating in the upper respiractory tract – playing a substantial, if not primary, role).

For the study, 261 infants were fed cow’s milk or soy formula exclusively (‘FF’ infants), and 54 were fed breast milk exclusively or in part (‘BMF’ infants). Breast milk was harvested by the mother and provided via an artificial feeder. Freedom from effusion in one or both ears was found in only seven (2.7%) of the ‘FF’ infants, but in seventeen (32%) of the ‘BMF’ infants. The study also suggested that that it was unlikely that the feeding of breast milk for relatively short periods to infants with cleft palate would substantially restrict their development of middle-ear disease.

The authors concluded that their findings appeared to confirm the variable protection by breast milk feeding against otitis media that had been suggested in several earlier reports. They recommended breast milk feeding for infants with cleft palate for as much of the first year of life as possible, both on general principles and in the specific hope of minimising the development of otitis media.

[The full article is more suited to medical personnel, with a heavy emphasis on medical terminology and scientific analysis.]

Otitis media is an infection or inflammation of the middle ear. The infection can be caused by a virus or by bacteria. It may also be accompanied by allergies, enlarged adenoids, or a cold that causes blockage of the eustachian tube (the connection between the throat and middle ear). Seventy-five percent of children experience at least one episode of otitis media by their third birthday. Almost half of these children will have three or more ear infections during their first 3 years. (US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)

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