Xylitol as a prophylaxis for acute otitis media: systematic review

Int J Audiol. 2010 Oct;49(10):754-61. doi: 10.3109/14992027.2010.493897.


A systematic review was conducted to evaluate evidence regarding xylitol, a sugar alcohol, as a prophylaxis for acute otitis media (AOM) in children. The authors searched PubMed and other databases to identify evidence. Criteria for included studies were: appear in English-language, peer-reviewed journals; at least quasi-experimental designs; use xylitol; and present outcome data. The authors completed evaluation forms for the included studies at all phases of the review. The authors reviewed 1479 titles and excluded 1435. Abstracts and full texts were reviewed for the remaining 44; four randomized controlled trials met inclusion criteria. Xylitol was a generally well accepted prophylaxis for AOM with few side effects when administered via chewing gum or syrup at 10 g/day given five times daily. Meta-analysis revealed significant treatment effects (Risk ratio = 0.68; 95% confidence interval = 0.57 to 0.83). Xylitol can be a prophylaxis for AOM, but warrants further study, especially of vehicles other than chewing gum for young children, and information is needed regarding cost, duration of administration required, and expected long-term effects.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Oral
  • Chewing Gum
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Costs
  • Humans
  • Otitis Media / prevention & control*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Sweetening Agents / adverse effects
  • Sweetening Agents / economics
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Xylitol / administration & dosage*
  • Xylitol / adverse effects
  • Xylitol / economics


  • Chewing Gum
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Xylitol