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Epidemiology. 2004 Jan;15(1):13-20.

Infant otitis media and the use of secondary heating sources.

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  • 1Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven Connecticut 06520-8034, USA.



This prospective study investigated the association of exposure to indoor secondary heating sources with otitis media and recurrent otitis media risk in infants.


We enrolled mothers living in nonsmoking households and delivering babies between 1993 and 1996 in 12 Connecticut and Virginia hospitals. Biweekly telephone interviews during the first year of life assessed diagnoses from doctors' office visits and use of secondary home heating sources, air conditioner use, and day care. Otitis media episodes separated by more than 21 days were considered to be unique episodes. Recurrent otitis media was defined as 4 or more episodes of otitis media. Repeated-measures logistic regression modeling evaluated the association of kerosene heater, fireplace, or wood stove use with otitis media episodes while controlling for potential confounders. Logistic regression evaluated the relation of these secondary heating sources with recurrent otitis media.


None of the secondary heating sources were associated with otitis media or with recurrent otitis media. Otitis media was associated with day care, the winter heating season, birth in the fall, white race, additional children in the home, and a maternal history of allergies in multivariate models. Recurrent otitis media was associated with day care, birth in the fall, white race, and a maternal history of allergies or asthma.


We found no evidence that the intermittent use of secondary home heating sources increases the risk of otitis media or recurrent otitis media. This study confirms earlier findings regarding the importance of day care with respect to otitis media risk.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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