South African Family Practice

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Otitis Media in high-risk infants

B Louw, SR Hugo, A Kritzinger, L Pottas


Background: Delayed communication development is the most common symptom of developmental disability in children under three. Recurrent otitis media is an important contributing factor to a developmental communication delay. Young children under the age of three years who have a

communication delay due to biological risk factors, for example prematurity, or established risk factors such as Down Syndrome, may be further at risk for developmental delays as a result of recurrent otitis media.

Methods: A retrospective study analysed the results obtained from individual hearing assessments conducted on 67 high-risk infants and toddlers ranging from 4 weeks to 37 months in age, over a 20-month period.

Results: 68,6% of the subjects experienced otitis media at the time of testing, while the condition was undetected by 70,1% of the parents, even though 56,7% of the subjects had a history of otitis media.

Conclusions: Otitis media and its' far reaching sequelae can be treated effectively and preventatively in all young children, using a team approach. A series of activities are outlined to illustrate how this goal can be reached.

SA Fam Prac Vol.25(1) 2002: 4-8

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