New York: A gene associated with an increased risk of children developing a common ear infection has been identified by US researchers.
Middle-ear infection, or acute otitis media, is an ear infection that is usually caused by bacteria or viruses.
Common symptoms include ear pain and fever and in some cases, it may also cause drainage of fluid from the ear or hearing loss.
"This painful childhood ear infection is the most frequent reason children receive antibiotics," said Hakon Hakonarson from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
For the study, the team performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) with DNA samples from 11,000 children.
They found that an association between acute otitis media and a site on chromosome 6 containing the gene FNDC1, and then replicated the finding in an independent pediatric cohort with data from 2,000 children.
The scientists showed that the mouse gene corresponding to FNDC1 was expressed in the animal's middle ear.
"Although the gene's function in humans has not been well studied, we do know that FNDC1 codes for a protein with a role in inflammation," Hakonarson added.
The finding, published online in the journal Nature Communications, may offer an early clue to helping doctors develop more effective treatments to prevent one of the most common childhood illnesses.