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Ear Tubal Surgery for Better Hearing: A Look at the Facts

Sunday, 02 November 2008 11:58

The team enlisted 6350 healthy babies from birth to 2 months old and have regularly measured fluid in these children’s ear up until their third birthdays. If children developed significant fluid in the ears that lasted for at least 3 months straight or 4 out of six months, half of the children received ear tube surgery. The other half waited for 6 to 9 months longer and then had surgery only if the fluid remained. What was the outcome? When the children were 4 years old, they received an extensive battery of intelligence, development, speech, language, and behavioral tests, looking at verbal and nonverbal growth. No difference could be found between the early and late treatment groups. Researchers will continue to follow these children as they grow up. But for now, this large, carefully designed study has found no developmental benefit from rushing to ear tubes for young children.

-August 2003 Pediatrics. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=12897272

Their more recent study confirms that the surgery in 2-3 year olds does not improve hearing abilities when they reach 5-6 years of age. "In otherwise healthy children who have persistent MEE during their first 3 years of life, ready resort to M&T results in far more TM abnormalities at age 5 than does selective management in which most children do not receive the procedure. With these differing approaches, however, hearing levels at age 6 do not differ. Regardless of whether children with persistent early-life MEE receive M&T, they have more TM abnormalities at age 5 and negligibly poorer hearing at age 6 than do children who had less or no otitis media. "

-July 2004 Pediatrics