"Acute otitis media (AOM) is the most common bacterial infection among young children in the United States with limitations and concerns over its treatment with antibiotics and surgery. Therefore, effective preventative measures are attractive. A potential preventative measure is xylitol, a natural sugar substitute that reduces the risk for dental decay. Xylitol can reduce the adherence of Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae) and Haemophilus influenzae (H. influenzae) to nasopharyngeal cells in vitro.
In the four main studies evaluated, there was a reduced risk of occurrence of AOM in the xylitol groups compared to the control groups. Xylitol chewing gum was superior to xylitol syrup in preventing AOM among healthy children. There is fair evidence that the prophylactic administration of xylitol among healthy children attending day care centers reduces the occurrence of AOM by 25%.
Xylitol sugar supplement is effective for preventing middle ear infection in children up to 12 years of age. Antibiotic treatment of AOM is costly and raises concerns regarding the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Surgery is invasive and costly and because of these factors, effective measures for preventing AOM are sought. An alternative treatment is xylitol or birch sugar. Xylitol has been used for decades as a natural non-sugar sweetener principally in chewing gums, confectionery, toothpaste and medicines, and can reduce the risk of tooth decay. No significant adverse effects were identified in our research."
Steve - pretty strong stuff. Make sure you pass this along to your pediatricians. Please note that for those who are corn intolerant, only use birch-bark derived xylitol gum. Most xylitol is corn-derived. In addition, because xylitol can have a laxative effect, only use in moderation. Otherwise, giving your kids great tasting chewing gum that reduces dental caries and ear infections seems like a win-win, eh?