Objective: Screening for hearing impairment in the Netherlands took place at the age of 9 months for many years but was recently moved to the neonatal period. Since otitis media has its highest prevalence at the age of 9 months, it might be that screening for hearing impairment at this age is linked to treatment of otitis media. We were interested in what the impact would be on the number of children treated with ventilation tubes or adenoidectomy when they were no longer screened at the age of 9 months.
Methods: National birth rates, data regarding screening for hearing impairment at the age of 9 months and at the neonatal period, as well as data regarding adenoidectomy and tube placement were used to study treatment of otitis media in children aged 0-2 years in the Netherlands.
Results: The percentage of children treated with ventilation tubes after implementation of neonatal screening for hearing impairment did not decline (OR 1.198-1.112), and more children were treated at a younger age. The number of children treated with adenoidectomy did however decline (OR 0.724-0.890).
Conclusion: There seems to be an association between the implementation of neonatal screening for hearing impairment and the treatment of otitis media. During the whole studied period there was a slight but statistical significant increase in the odds for tube placement in all children aged 0-23 months. After implementation of the neonatal screen there was a distinct increase in the number of children aged 6-11 months treated with tubes. In the same period a statistical significant decline in the odds of undergoing adenoidectomy was observed.