The Prevalence of Long-Term Otitis Media Related Hearing Loss in Children and Its Impact on Developmental Outcomes

  • Aleema Rahman

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


    Otitis media (OM) is a common cause of temporary hearing loss (HL) in childhood. However, for some children it may result in long-term HL lasting more than 3 months. Epidemiological studies of HL in childhood generally focus on permanent hearing impairment and not that due to OM. Therefore, the prevalence of long-term OM related HL is unknown as well as the potential impact that it may have on children’s development.

    This research aims to 1) systematically review existing literature on the impact of long-term OM related HL on cognition and academic ability; 2) determine the prevalence of long-term OM related HL in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and 3) study the impact on cognitive, educational and mental health outcomes.

    The systematic review revealed weak evidence of long-term OM related HL having a negative impact on IQ and academic ability. In the ALSPAC study the prevalence of long-term OM related HL was 2.69% over the ages 7-15 years. This group had poorer IQ scores at age 15 than children without HL (verbal IQ: -4.72; performance IQ: -1.48). No associations were found with academic achievement at 15-16 years or anxiety and depression at 10 and 15 years.

    These findings indicate that the prevalence of long-term OM related HL is approximately 20 times higher than permanent HL in childhood. Furthermore, this HL has been shown to negatively impact cognition. Additional research is required to investigate the impact of this HL further and to determine how children can be better supported by clinical and educational services. A qualitative study design for future work using ethnographic and grounded theory methods to address this is presented.
    Date of AwardJun 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAmanda Hall (Supervisor), Helen Pryce (Supervisor) & Rachel Shaw (Supervisor)


    • otitis media with effusion
    • childhood hearing loss
    • prospective cohort study
    • cognition
    • psychosocial

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