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Child Development Unaffected by Ear Tube Insertion

Development similar in children with middle-ear effusion regardless of when tube is inserted

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Children with persistent middle-ear effusion have similar developmental outcomes regardless of whether they receive prompt or delayed insertion of tympanostomy tubes, according to the results of a study published in the Jan. 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Jack L. Paradise, M.D., of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, and colleagues compared developmental outcomes in 391 children with persistent middle-ear effusion who were less than 3 years old when they were randomized to either prompt insertion of tympanostomy tubes or insertion up to nine months later if the effusion persisted.

When the children were 9 to 11 years old, the researchers found that both groups were similar on 48 measures of literacy, attention, social skills and academic achievement.

The study "provides convincing evidence that persistent middle-ear effusion in otherwise normal children does not cause developmental impairments," Stephen Berman, M.D., from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, writes in an accompanying editorial. "These new findings are important because they provide reassurance that developmental impairments that are not identified at an earlier age do not come into play later in the setting of greater academic challenges."

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