Big drop seen in ear infections. You sure about that?

March 4, 2011 at 2:47 PM ET

Ear infection. Shout it in a roomful of parents and watch the shudder ripple through the place like the wave at Giants Stadium. That collective cringe is the memory of too many sleepless nights spent trying to soothe a screaming, clinging toddler, praying that the Tylenol finally, finally takes effect and helps calm the miserable babe.

But, according to health officials, the number of reported ear infections for children ages 6 and under actually dropped nearly 30 percent from 1993 to 2008, from an estimated 17.5 million to about 12.5 million visits.

Ear infections had long been cause of more visits to the doctor than any other childhood illness. From 1975 to 1990, as more mothers went to work and took their tots to day care, the cases soared, the AP reports. Because -- for better or worse -- we know that the cleanest, most sanitized day care is a breeding ground of slimy, slobbery kid germs.  

It's unclear why children aren’t getting as many ear infections in recent years, although some researchers believe it’s because not as many parents are smoking, along with the growing use of a vaccine against strep bacteria.

But, whatever the cause, fewer ear infections mean fewer endless nights with an inconsolable child, and fewer missed days of work for working parents.

What’s your experience? Do you agree with the statistics or for you, is it a case of “Not in my house!”