Recurrent otitis media and behaviour problems in middle childhood: A longitudinal cohort study

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Aim: To investigate the long-term effects of early-life recurrent otitis media (OM) and subsequent behavioural problems in children at the age of 10 years. Methods: Data from the Raine Study, a longitudinal pregnancy cohort, were used to categorise children into those with three or more episodes of OM (rOM group) and those without a history of recurrent OM in the first 3 years of life (reference group). The parent report Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire was used to assess child behaviour at the age of 10 years. Parental questionnaires were used to report past and present diagnoses of various mental health and developmental conditions, including attention, anxiety, depression, learning, and speech-language problems. Multiple linear and logistic models were used to analyse the data and were adjusted for a fixed set of key confounding variables. Results: The linear regression analysis revealed significant, independent associations between a history of recurrent OM and higher Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire scores, including total, internalising, externalising, emotional, attention/hyperactivity and peer problems subscales. Logistic regression analyses revealed an independent increased likelihood for children in the rOM group to have a diagnosis of attention, anxiety, learning and speech-language problems. Conclusion: Children at 10 years of age with an early history of recurrent OM are more likely to exhibit attentional and behavioural problems when compared to children without a history of recurrent OM. These findings highlight the association between early-life recurrent OM and later behavioural problems that may require professional allied health-care interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-17
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number1
Early online date14 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


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