HEALTH

Ear Infection Rates Drop 30 Percent

Good news for parents and toddlers alike: Health officials have reported a dramatic 30 percent decline in ear infection diagnoses among children 6 years and under from 1993 to 2008. Ear infections used to be the most common reason parents brought young children to pediatricians, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not issued a report on ear infections in nearly 20 years. Researchers at Harvard University have linked fewer ear infections to a decline in the number of smoking parents during this time period. Inhaling cigarette smoke through the nose can cause infection-inducing swelling and irritation in the ear, according to doctors.