Ann Otol Rhinol Lary1l6ol101:1992



The effect ofrecurrent middle ear disease during the first 2 years oflife on auditory perceptual skills and reading ability was examined in two groups of 6- and 7-year-old children who were pair..matched by age, gender, socioeconomic status, and receptive vocabulary. Group 1 consisted of children with documented chronic otitis media at an early age, and group 2 had no history of middle ear problems. Tests of auditory perceptual skills and reading ability were administered. Significant differences in performance on all tests of auditory processing ability and reading ability were noted. KEY WORDS - academic performance, auditory perceptual skills, auditory processing skills, ear infections, otitis media, reading ability.

children with chronic otitis media. However, the authors did note that the school district from which their samples were drawn placed heavy emphasis on reading and that a great number of their group with chronic conductive hearing loss received the services of support personnel. Lous and Fiellau-Nikolajsen'? also found no effect on reading related to the presence of recurrent middle ear disease. Their subjects, however, were studied beginning at the age of 3 years, and no consideration was given to the presence of ear disease during the first 3 years of life - a period critical for speech and language development. In addition, the testing for basic reading skills was done on an entirely visual test with no requirement to deal with auditory input.


Recently, much interest has been expressed in the effects of chronic otitis media. The possibility of deleterious effects on speech and language development and auditory processing ability has been examined, but the results are inconclusive. 1-10 Brandes and Ehinger> observed significantly poorer performance in auditory perceptual abilities·ofchildren with histories of early chronic otitis media than in their peers. Hoffman-Lawless et al 5 reported no differences in auditory processing abilities of 7- and 9-year-old children with and without early recurrent ear infections. However, most of the children in the latter study classified as having chronic otitis media acquired their disease between their second and fourth years. As the authors note, central auditory deficits may be more inclined to occur in otitis-prone children who acquire middle ear effusion during the first few months of life, when the auditory nervous system is still developing. The question concerningthe effects of early recurrent otitis media before the age of 2 years, therefore, has not been answered.

The research on the possible effects ofearly chronic otitis media on reading and auditory perceptual skills is inconclusive because of numerous methodological problems. The present study attempted to assess the effects of early recurrent middle ear problems on auditory perceptual skills and reading ability.

The question of whether early chronic otitis media may have adverse effects on academic achievement has been addressed.J'

Reading skills and auditory processing ability in children with chronic otitis media in early childhood.

The effect of recurrent middle ear disease during the first 2 years of life on auditory perceptual skills and reading ability was examined in two grou...
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