The relationship between otitis media during the first 3 years of life and subsequent speech development was examined in 55 socioeconomically disadvantaged children who attended a research day-care program. The children were participants in a longitudinal study of child development in which the number of episodes of otitis media and the duration of each otitis episode were reported prospectively from infancy. Standardized tests of speech were administered between the ages of 2 1/2 and 8 years. No significant relationship was found between otitis media in early childhood and number of common phonological processes or consonants in error used during the preschool years. However, the number of days of otitis media before age 3 was associated with the total number of phonological processes used by children between the ages of 4 1/2 and 8 years. Although these findings suggest that phonological processes after age 4 1/2 tend to drop out more slowly for children with a history of otitis media than of children without histories, no consistent patterns were observed for individual phonological processes or for the total number of consonants in error in this age range.
Otitis media in early childhood and its relationship to later phonological development