The effects of an early history of otitis media on children’s language and literacy skill development

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Publication details

Winskel, H 2006, 'The effects of an early history of otitis media on children’s language and literacy skill development', British Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 76, no. 4, pp. 727-744.

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Background. Otitis media (OM) or middle ear infection is a common childhoodillness and is most frequent during the crucial first 3 years of life when speech andlanguage categories are being established, which could potentially have a long-termeffect on language and literacy skill development.

Aims. The purpose of the current study was to ascertain the effects of a history ofOM in early childhood on later language and literacy skill development.Sample. Forty-three children from Grade 1 and Grade 2, between 6 and 8 years old with an early history of OM and 43 control children, matched for chronological age,gender and socio-economic status, participated in this study.

Methods. Children were tested on multiple measures of phonological awareness,semantic knowledge, narration and reading ability. The performance of children withand without a history of OM was compared on the different measures.

Results. There was a general tendency for children with a history of OM to achievelower scores on phonological awareness skills of alliteration, rhyme and non-wordreading, semantic skills of expressive vocabulary and word definitions and reading thannon-OM children.

Conclusion. These findings highlight the potential problems an early history ofmiddle ear infection can have on school-aged children’s later language and literacydevelopment.

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