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Otitis media is the most frequent reason that children go to the doctor for illness.
In developing countries, where children have limited access to medical care, suppurative
complications of otitis media (OM) are frequent and permanent hearing loss results.
In developed countries, the most common morbidity of OM is conductive hearing loss
due to middle ear effusion. Infants with severe and recurrent OM and persistent middle
ear effusion are at risk for problems in behavior and development of speech, language
and cognitive abilities. Parent stress is frequent. The cost of otitis media is large
(>$5 billion in the United States). Selection and spread of multi-drug resistant bacterial
pathogens arising from extensive use of antimicrobial agents for OM is a problem for
management of all diseases due to the pathogens. The incidence and severity of OM
may diminish with introduction of new bacterial and viral vaccines.