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October 04, 2016

CHOP researchers identify gene linked to childhood ear infections

Scientists are now one step closer to preventing a common illness that affects children, according to a recent study.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) researchers have discovered a gene that increased a child's risk of developing acute otitis media (AOM), more commonly known as middle ear infections, the hospital announced Tuesday.

"Parents and pediatricians are all too familiar with this painful childhood ear infection — it's the most frequent reason children receive antibiotics," said study leader Dr. Hakon Hakonarson, director of the Center for Applied Genomics at CHOP. "Although microbes cause this condition, it's been well known that genetics also plays a role. This is the first and largest genetic study focused on risk susceptibility for acute otitis media."

A collaboration between researchers from CHOP and the University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands contributed to the study.

DNA samples from 11,000 children were examined and researchers found a link between AOM and the gene FNDC1. The results were later independently replicated using data from 2,000 children.

Researchers hope that the finding will allow doctors to develop more effective treatments to prevent the illness.

"As with many other diseases, early medical intervention may offer the greatest benefits," Hakonarson said.

For more information, see the study published in Nature Communications.

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