Black and Latino children with frequent ear infections are less likely to have access to medical care for treatment compared with white children, according to a study published in Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery and reported by HealthDay News.

For the study, researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University California at Los Angeles (UCLA) analyzed a nine-year period of data from the National Health Interview Survey to determine the number of children who had frequent ear infections (more than three infections over 12 months).

Scientists found that of the 4.6 million children who experienced frequent ear infections each year more black and Latino children lived below the poverty level, more Latino children were uninsured, fewer black and Latino children had access to specialty care and more black and Latino children visited a hospital emergency room at least twice for ear infections during 12 months compared with their white counterparts.

“Clearly, we found that children of certain ethnicities who suffer from frequent ear infections are more likely to face greater barriers to care. This information provides an opportunity for improvements in our current health care reform,” said study coauthor Nina Shapiro, MD, director of pediatric otolaryngology at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, in a news release.

Click here to read how antibiotics can increase children’s ear infections.