Otitis Media Has Impact on Auditory, Language Development

Performance on auditory measure and both sets of language measures poorer for those with history of otitis media
Otitis Media Has Impact on Auditory, Language Development
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

TUESDAY, Jan. 9, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Otitis media seems to affect auditory and language development, according to a study published in the January issue of the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.

Noting that evidence relating to the effect of otitis media on auditory and language development has been contradictory, Susan Nittrouer, Ph.D., and Joanna H. Lowenstein, Ph.D., from the University of Florida in Gainesville, examined these effects in more detail in a study of 49 children aged 5 to 10 years with and 68 without significant histories of otitis media. Temporal modulation detection was used to examine auditory function, using games to maintain children's attention; language measures included measures of lexical knowledge and phonological sensitivity.

The researchers found that across groups of children with and without histories of otitis media, sustained attention was demonstrated. Performance was poorer for children with versus without histories of otitis media on the auditory measure and on both sets of language measures; stronger effects were seen for phonological sensitivity than lexical knowledge. Variability in phonological sensitivity, but not in lexical knowledge, was accounted for by deficits in temporal modulation.

"Ear infections are so common that we tend to dismiss them as having no long-term effect. We should take all ear infections seriously," Nittrouer said in a statement. "Parents should be aware that their child may have some middle ear fluid without it being painful and work with their doctor to monitor their child closely."

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