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Acta Otolaryngol. 1996 Mar;116(2):219-21.

Auditory consequences of early mild hearing loss associated with otitis media.

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Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA.


Two groups of children received periodic documentation of their middle ear status by pneumatic otoscopy in the first year of life and had hearing sensitivity estimated by multiple auditory brainstem response (ABR) assessments during the same period. One group was considered otitis media (OM)-positive, with repeated bilateral episodes of OM and mild conductive hearing loss. The second group was considered OM-free with normal middle ear function bilaterally and normal hearing sensitivity in the first year of life. Children's higher-order auditory abilities were examined at 4, 6 and 9 years of age. Various measures such as speech recognition-in-competition, visual-auditory learning, sound blending, auditory memory, and masking level difference estimates were utilized to probe the children's auditory abilities. Results show that children with a first-year history of otitis media demonstrate deficits in the long term in some aspects of higher-order auditory processing. Performance appears to be associated with the mild hearing loss experienced during an important period of early development.

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