Effects of Recurrent Middle Ear Effusion in Preschool Years on Language and Learning

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Eighteen healthy 8− to 11-year-old children with normal hearing and histories of recurrent middle ear effusion (MEE) before the age of 5 years were evaluated by a battery of audiologic, psychologic, language, and achievement tests. Each of these children was compared to a non-MEE sibling who was tested at the same age. None of the children had been diagnosed as learning disabled. Both groups tested in the bright normal range of verbal ability on the WISC-R. Paired comparison of sibling data revealed that the MEE subjects had deficits in verbal ability, auditory decoding, and spelling skills compared with control siblings. Significant strength in visual sequential memory in the MEE subjects suggests the availability of compensatory strategies for auditory deficits in these subjects. Sex and/or birth order differences did not explain the differences observed between siblings.

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