The present study examined the effect of early-life otitis media and its associated fluctuating hearing loss on categorical speech perception in 7-year-old Dutch children. The middle ear status of these children had been followed prospectively in their first 2 years of life. Identification and discrimination of speech sounds differing in place of articulation were tested at school age and outcomes were significantly related to otitis media-related hearing loss. Results revealed that phoneme identification and discrimination were affected by early-life hearing loss. It is not otitis media per se, but rather the relative severity of hearing loss resulting from early-life otitis media which is related to poorer categorical speech perception abilities in school-age children.
- Otitis media
- Hearing loss
- Long-term effects
- Categorical speech perception
- Prospective studies