What is the incidence and prevalence of acute otitis media (AOM) in the US?

Updated: Sep 25, 2019
  • Author: John D Donaldson, MD, FRCSC, FACS; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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In the United States, 70% of all children experience one or more attacks of AOM before their second birthday. A study from Pittsburgh that prospectively followed urban and rural children for the first 2 years of life determined that the incidence of middle ear effusion episodes is approximately 48% at age 6 months, 79% at age 1 year, and 91% at age 2 years. [16]

The peak incidence of AOM is in children aged 3-18 months. Some infants may experience their first attack shortly after birth and are considered otitis-prone (ie, at risk for recurrent otitis media). A study by Megged et al found that 30% of pediatric patients who had neonatal AOM suffered from recurrent AOM later in childhood, compared with 10% of controls. [17]

In the Pittsburgh study, the incidence of AOM was highest among poor urban children. Differences in incidence between nations are influenced by racial, socioeconomic, and climatic factors.

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