Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess pacifier use as a risk factor for otitis media during the first year of life.
Methods: A volunteer cohort of 1,375 infants was recruited from eight hospital postpartum units in Iowa. Parents were asked to provide detailed information on their child's health at 6 weeks, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of age. Questions were posed concerning occurrence of specific childhood illnesses, including otitis media, at each time point, as well as other factors.
Results: Over 70% of children were reported to have experienced one or more episodes of otitis media during their first year of life, with its occurrence much more common during the second six months. Multivariate analyses using Generalized Estimating Equations assessed factors associated with otitis media during the entire 12-month period. These analyses showed that pacifier use, age, male sex, greater number of childcare days, and higher family incomes were significantly associated with occurrence of otitis media.
Conclusions: Multivariate analyses found that the occurrence of otitis media was associated with pacifier use, one of few modifiable risk factors for otitis media.