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Behaviour and developmental effects of otitis media with effusion into the teens
  1. K E Bennetta,
  2. M P Haggarda,
  3. P A Silvab,
  4. I A Stewartc
  1. aMRC Institute of Hearing Research, University Park, Nottingham, UK, bDunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Centre, Dunedin, New Zealand, cENT department, University of Otago Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand
  1. Dr Kathleen Bennett, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St James's Hospital, Dublin 8, Republic of Irelandkbennett{at}


OBJECTIVE To examine whether behavioural or cognitive sequelae of otitis media with effusion (OME) continue into late childhood and the early teens (11–18 years).

SETTING Data from a large multipurpose birth cohort study: the Dunedin multidisciplinary health and development study.

PARTICIPANTS Around 1000 children from the study. The main independent variable of interest was otological status of the child up to age 9.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Parent and teacher rated behaviour problems, including antisocial, neurotic, hyperactive, and inattentive behaviours, and tests of academic achievement including intelligence quotient (IQ), reading, and spelling were available in a high proportion of the cohort at ages 11 to 18 years.

RESULTS After adjustments for covariates such as socioeconomic status, hyperactive and inattentive behaviour problems were evident as late as 15 years, and lower IQ associated with OME remained significant to 13 years. The largest effects were observed for deficits in reading ability between 11 and 18 years.

CONCLUSIONS No previous study considering behaviour problems as an outcome has followed children long enough to determine whether some of the early sequelae of OME are still present in the early to late teens. Some developmental sequelae of OME, particularly deficits in reading ability, can persist into late childhood and the early teens.

  • otitis media
  • behaviour problems
  • academic achievement
  • longitudinal cohort study
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