Association of early bilateral middle ear effusion with language at age 5 years

David P. McCormick, Constance D. Baldwin, Joan S. Klecan-Aker, Paul R. Swank, Dale L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective. - This study tested the hypothesis that children with early persistent middle ear effusion (MEE) are at risk for later language deficit. Method. - We recruited 698 newborns and monitored them for MEE every 2 to 4 weeks at home until age 3 years. Language skills were assessed on 294 subjects at age 5, while controlling for 8 demographic and environmental factors. Language outcomes at age 5 years were studied as a function of duration of bilateral MEE from birth to age 3 years. Results. - A significant relation was found between duration of bilateral MEE and speech sound sensitivity (Carrow Elicited Language Inventory) and articulation (Goldman-Fristoe Articulation). Children's ability to discriminate speech sounds in a quiet environment (Carrow Auditory Visual Abilities Test) was less affected by early prolonged MEE in homes that provided more cognitive stimulation. Conclusions. - These exploratory results indicate that prolonged early MEE may predispose children to language deficits at age 5 years. The language deficits are of small magnitude and may or may not be clinically significant. Language stimulation at home may protect against some of the effects of prolonged MEE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-90
Number of pages4
JournalAmbulatory Pediatrics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Child
  • Development
  • Language
  • Middle ear effusion
  • Otitis media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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