PURPOSE : The aim of the study was to examine whether otitis media (OM) in early childhood has an impact on language development in later childhood.
METHODS : We analyzed data from 1,344 second-generation (Generation 2) participants in the Raine Study, a longitudinal pregnancy cohort established in Perth, Western Australia, between 1989 and 1991. OM was assessed clinically at 6 years of age. Language development was measured using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test–Revised (PPVT-R) at 6 and 10 years of age and the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals–Third Edition at 10 years of age. Logistic regression analysis accounted for a wide range of social and environmental covariates.
RESULTS : There was no significant relationship between bilateral OM and language ability at 6 years of age (β = −0.56 [−3.78, 2.66], p = .732). However, while scores were within the normal range for the outcome measures at both time points, there was a significant reduction in the rate of receptive vocabulary growth at 10 years of age (PPVT-R) for children with bilateral OM at 6 years of age (β = −3.17 [−6.04, −0.31], p = .030), but not for the combined unilateral or bilateral OM group (β = −1.83 [−4.04, 0.39], p = .106).
CONCLUSIONS : Children with OM detected at 6 years of age in this cohort had average language development scores within the normal range at 6 and 10 years of age. However, there was a small but statistically significant reduction in the rate of receptive vocabulary growth at 10 years of age (on the PPVT-R measure only) in children who had bilateral OM at 6 years of age after adjusting for a range of sociodemographic factors.