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Otitis Media in Young Children With Disabilities

Zeisel, Susan A. EdD; Roberts, Joanne E. PhD

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Otitis media with effusion (OME) is one of the most common illnesses of early childhood. Children with many developmental disabilities (eg, Down syndrome, Williams syndrome, Apert syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Turner's syndrome, and cleft palate) are at increased risk for OME. Because OME is typically accompanied by a mild to moderate fluctuating hearing loss, children with disabilities who are already at risk for delays in language learning may be at an even greater risk for language learning difficulties because of OME. The prevalence of OME was studied in 14 children between 8 and 66 months with developmental disabilities attending center-based childcare. The children were examined every other week using tympanometry for 7 months. Consistent with studies of typically developing children, younger children demonstrated more OME than did older children. Children with Down syndrome had the highest incidence of OME regardless of age. Early interventionists can be an important resource to families by sharing information about OME, and strategies for promoting healthy settings, encouraging children's listening, language learning, and early literacy skills in both home and classroom settings.

The School of Nursing, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Zeisel)

The School of Nursing, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Department of Pediatrics and Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences (Roberts).

This study was supported by the Maternal and Child Health Program (MCJ-370599, MCJ-370649, and MC-00145–02, Title V, Social Security Act), Health and Human Resources Administration, Department of Health and Human Resources. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institute of Health (1 RO1 DC03817–01A1) also provided support.

Corresponding author: Susan A. Zeisel, EdD, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (e-mail: susan_zeisel@unc.edu).

©2003Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.