Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Audiology (AuD)


Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders


Rory DePaolis

Lincoln Gray

Melissa Garber


Otitis media (OM) is a common ear-related disorder diagnosed in children that can cause a temporary conductive hearing loss. The fluctuating hearing loss may alter auditory processing which may interfere with language development while impacting quality of life for infants and their caregivers (Homøe et al., 2019). In several languages, eleven-month-old infants have shown a preference for familiar words over unfamiliar words using the head-turn preference paradigm. This study examines the effect of chronic OM on the preference for familiar or unfamiliar words in eleven-month-old infants. Fourteen eleven-month-old infants (mean age 344 days) with three or more diagnosed ear infections before the test date were tested using a familiar word list and unfamiliar word list adapted from Vihman et al. (2004). Infants with a history of chronic OM did not show a preference to either the familiar or unfamiliar word lists (t(13)=1.05, p=0.3), whereas their peers without a history of chronic OM showed a preference to the familiar word list over the unfamiliar word list from research previously conducted in the lab (t(11)=2.94, p=0.013). When combined with other high-risk factors such as pre-existing cognitive or language deficit and a compromised environment including smoking, overcrowding, poor nutrition, and non-compliance with medical management, more routine monitoring and additional support may be needed.



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