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EBP Compendium: Summary of Systematic Review

National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; Maternal and Child Health Program, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Otitis Media and Speech and Language: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies

Roberts, J. E., Rosenfeld, R. M., et al. (2004).
Pediatrics, 113(3 Part 1), e238-248.

Indicators of Review Quality:

The review addresses a clearly focused question Yes
Criteria for inclusion of studies are provided Yes
Search strategy is described in sufficient detail for replication Yes
Included studies are assessed for study quality No
Quality assessments are reproducible N/A

Description: This is a review of prospective studies investigating whether a history of otitis media with effusion (OME) in young children can lead to speech and language problems.

Question(s) Addressed:

  • Is a history of otitis media with effusion (OME) in early childhood related to receptive language, expressive language, vocabulary, syntax, or speech development in children one to five years old? 
  • Is hearing loss caused by otitis media in early childhood related to children's receptive language or expressive language through two years of age?

Population: Children with a documented history of OME or associated hearing loss before the age of 5 years.

Intervention/Assessment: Not specified

Number of Studies Included: 14

Years Included: Through October 2002



  • Management
    • Speech & Language
      • General Findings
        • Meta-analyses revealed no association between OME and receptive language, expressive language, speech development, and receptive vocabulary at 3 years old. Meta-analysis results also showed no association between OME and receptive vocabulary, number of different words, or mean length of utterance during the preschool years.
        • Meta-analyses showed a significant negative association between: OME and receptive and expressive language during preschool years and hearing loss and receptive and expressive language during infancy. "Our findings suggest that OME and the related hearing loss children experienced during early childhood explain none to a very small amount of the observed variation in children's language skills" (p. 243).

Keywords: Otitis Media

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Added to Compendium: February 2012

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