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Pneumonia, Sinusitis, Influenza and Other Respiratory Illnesses in Acute Otitis Media-Prone Children.

BACKGROUND: Recurrent acute otitis media in the first years of life can be explained by immune dysfunction. Consequently, it would be expected that otitis-prone (OP) children would be more susceptible to other infectious diseases, especially respiratory infections, since a component of the immune problem involves nasopharyngeal innate immunity.

DESIGN: Cohort study with prospective identification of all physician-diagnosed, medically attended respiratory illness visits in children 6 months to 5 years of age to determine the incidence of pneumonia, acute sinusitis, influenza and other bacterial and viral infections among OP compared with non-OP (NOP) children. Tympanocentesis to microbiologically confirm acute otitis media disease.

RESULTS: Two hundred eighty-five children were studied. Thirty-nine met a standard definition of stringently defined OP (sOP) determined by tympanocentesis and 246 were NOP. sOP children had increased frequency of presumptive respiratory infections, pneumonia (6-fold higher, P < 0.001), sinusitis (2.1-fold higher, P = 0.026) and influenza (2.9-fold higher, P = 0.002), compared with NOP children. Demographic and risk factor covariate-adjusted fold difference between sOP and NOP children for all respiratory infection illness visits was 2.4-fold (P < 0.00001) at 6-18 months of age, 2.2-fold (P < 0.00001) at 18-30 months of age and at age and 2.4-fold (P = 0.035) higher at 30 to 42 months. For both sOP and NOP children, more frequent medically attended respiratory infection illness visits from 6-18 months of age predicted more frequent visits experienced from 18-60 months of age.

CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians should be aware of a significant increased likelihood of bacterial and viral respiratory infection proneness among OP children.

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