It is a known fact that breastfeeding protects infants against a number of infections and this includes acute otitis media or in more friendly words – ear infections.
There have been a number of studies correlating the human milk and acute otitis media infections and the results are clear. If you breastfeed, your baby has a much lower chance of suffering from acute ear infections in early childhood so breastfeeding is definitely worth “the trouble.”
One of the studies relating to acute otitis media can be found here; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19581824
Another interesting study provides strong evidence that introducing infant formula in the first 6 months of a baby’s life is associated with increased incidence of acute otitis media in early-childhood. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21833752
“Human milk provides infants with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory agents that contribute to optimal immune system function. The act of breastfeeding allows important bacterial and hormonal interactions between the mother and baby and impacts the mouth, tongue, swallow, and eustachian tubes. Previous meta-analyses have shown that lack of breastfeeding and less intensive patterns of breastfeeding are associated with increased risk of acute otitis media, one of the most common infections of childhood.
A review of epidemiologic studies indicates that the introduction of infant formula in the first 6 months of life is associated with increased incidence of acute otitis media in early childhood. More recent research raises the issues of how long this increased risk persists, and whether lack of breastfeeding is associated with diagnosis of otitis media with effusion. However, many studies suffer from lack of study of younger populations and imprecise definitions of infant feeding patterns. These findings suggest that measures of the association between breastfeeding history and otitis media risk are sensitive to the definition of breastfeeding used; future research is needed with more precise and consistent definitions of feeding, with attention to distinctions between direct breastfeeding and human milk feeding by bottle.”