The researchers examined the review of three studies that included 1,826 healthy children and a single study involving 1,277 children with respiratory infections who were at high risk for developing ear infections. In their analysis of the studies, which included children attending Finnish day care centers, regular consumption of xylitol in the form of gum, lozenges, or syrup was associated with a 25% reduced risk for developing middle ear infections.
On the base of the finding they concluded that kids who chew gum containing the natural sweetener xylitol may have a lower risk of ear infection. Researchers also added that stronger studies are needed to prove that xylitol prevents middle ear infections; however, the findings to date are promising.
Here it is important to note that Use of xylitol-containing gum, lozenges, or syrup did not appear to reduce middle ear infections in the children who already had respiratory illnesses. The study findings also suggested that xylitol-containing gum was superior to xylitol syrup for preventing middle ear infections in healthy children. There was no difference between xylitol-containing gum and xylitol lozenges in preventing middle ear infections.
"These studies were all from the same research group in Finland," researcher Amir Azarpazhooh, DDS, of the University of Toronto, tells WebMD. "While there is fair evidence to support a benefit, more research is needed to make a firm recommendation about using xylitol to prevent ear infections."
Azarpazhooh says xylitol gum represents a potential preventive strategy for reducing middle ear infections, but head and neck specialist Mark Shikowitz, MD, says the research is far from convincing.
Shikowitz is vice chairman of the department of otolaryngology and communicative disorders at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, New York.
"Xylitol may have some effectiveness as shown in these pilot studies, but certainly more studies are needed," he tells WebMD.
Since the reviewed studies included only Finnish children, the relevance of the findings to a U.S. population is not clear, Shikowitz says. He points out that antibiotics are not routinely used to treat ear infections in Scandinavian countries the way they are in the U.S.
More about Xylitol
Xylitol also known as birch sugar is commonly used in low calorie products such as gums. Candies and backed products.
Many dentists suggest chewing xylitol –sweetened gum to prevent cavities.
Middle Ear infection
The ear infection occurs due to bacterial growth at eustachian tube of ear. The small children may became irritable, fussy, or have problems feeding or sleeping due to infection. Older children may complain about pain and fullness in the ear (earache) along with fever. In most cases with fever there are associated symptoms such as stuffy nose or cough. There could be temporary hearing loss also. Severe ear infections can lead to eardrum rupture and pus drains from the middle ear into ear canal.
Preventive measures to reduce the ear infection risk in small babies
- Doctors recommended putting baby in a crèche with no more than five or six children to reduce baby’s risk of getting ear infection.
- Breast-feeding boosts baby’s immune system and uses a swallowing mechanism that allows less milk to enter the eustachian tube.
- Not letting your baby drink from a bottle while lying down.
- Avoid cigarette smoke exposure.
- Vaccinate your child against the flu.
- Wash hands frequently. Washing hands prevents the spread of germs and can help keep your child from catching a cold or the flu.
- Do not allow healthy child to play with other sick children or limit the exposure with sick play mate.
The research review was conducted for the medical practices review group Cochrane Collaboration. It is published in the November issue of the group's publication Cochrane Library.
Health benefits of chewing gum
As per some published articles and study results chewing gum have some more benefits such as it
- Help in weight management
- Increase concentration and alertness
- Improve memory, Psychologists say, the chewing gum can help in improving memory and enhance cognitive powers.
- Known to relieve everyday stress symptoms
- Improves oral health -sugar free gum can help in prevention of tooth decay and provide fresh breath.
It is important to note that, there is no standard effect on everyone; it may vary from person to person.
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