Risk factors for failing the hearing screen due to otitis media in Dutch infants

W. Lok*, L.J.C. Anteunis, C. Meesters, M.N. Chenault, M.P. Haggard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Hearing loss from otitis media (OM) can affect young children's development. Some children with persistent OM-related hearing loss and associated problems can benefit from treatment, but researchers and clinicians are still unclear on how to identify them best. The present study aims to determine which factors are most related to the hearing loss in OM, as a first step towards an effective case-finding instrument for detecting infants with persistent OM-related hearing loss. The full PEPPER ('Persistent Ear Problems, Providing Evidence for Referral') item pool includes a wide range of risk factors for OM in a single questionnaire, and is easily completed by parents or guardians. The questionnaire was sent to all children invited for the universal hearing screen at age 9 months in Limburg, The Netherlands. Repeatedly failing of the hearing screen was used as outcome marker indicative of OM-related chronic hearing loss. Univariate analyses were conducted to determine statistically significant risk factors predicting 'fail' cases at this hearing screen. Five items were found as individually predictive of hearing screen failure and subsequent referral: 'having severe cold symptoms', 'attending day care with > 4 children', 'having siblings', 'severe nasal congestion' and 'male gender'. Suitably worded parental questions document risk factors for OM-related hearing loss in infants, broadly consistent with past general literature on OM risk factors, but more focused. The findings justify further optimising and evaluation of an additive or multiplicative combination of these questions as a means for selecting and routing an infant with diagnosed or suspected OM to further care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2485-2496
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Otitis media
  • Hearing loss
  • Infants
  • Risk factors
  • LIFE

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