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Faulty gene may cause 'glue ear'

Scientists believe they have found a gene that may be responsible for glue ear in children.

The condition, also called otitis media, meaning inflammation of the middle ear, is the most common cause of hearing impairment in children.

Half of UK children under the age of one get glue ear, and a third of one to three year olds have repeated bouts.

The work in mice, published in Public Library of Science Genetics, pinpoints a gene called Evi1.

Glue ear

In otitis media, the inflammation often begins when infections that cause sore throats, colds, or other breathing problems spread to the middle ear - the part of the ear that lies behind the eardrum .

There are many reasons why children are more likely to suffer from otitis media than adults.

Children have more trouble fighting infections, partly because their immune systems are still developing.
    
"The Junbo mouse provides a model of how otitis media affects children" Lead researcher Professor Steven Brown

Also the passageways connecting the ears to the throat are small and can get blocked meaning any fluid cannot drain and will collect in the ear.

As the fluid increases, the child may have trouble hearing because the eardrum and middle ear bones are unable to move as freely as they should.

As the infection worsens, the fluid gets thicker and glue-like and many children also experience severe ear pain.

Eventually, too much fluid can put pressure on the eardrum and tear it.

Antibiotics may be given ... continue > 


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Published: 9 October 2006      Ref: BBC News

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