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Date of preparation: March 2018


Does acute otitis media (AOM) commonly occur in children? 

Although anyone can develop a middle ear infection, most cases of AOM (~51%) occur in children under 5 years of age. 1 Factors that can increase the risk of a child developing a middle ear infection include: 2-3

  • Sex (AOM is more common in males)
  • Attending a nursery or daycare centre – this increases the chances of being exposed to infection from other children
  • Passive smoking
  • Lack of breast feeding (infants who are breast fed for as little as 3 months have less disease in the first year of life than children who are not breast fed)
  • A family history of middle-ear infections
  • Being fed while lying flat on their back
  • Using a dummy after 11 months of age
  • Having a cleft palate
  • Down's syndrome

Is acute otitis media (AOM) highly prevalent in children?  

Most cases of AOM occur in children under 5 years of age, with up to 51% of cases occurring in this age group. 1 The global incidence rate of AOM is 10.85% (new episodes per 100 persons/year); with an estimated 709 million cases per year. 1


  1. Monasta L, et al. Burden of Disease Caused by Otitis Media: Systematic Review and Global Estimates. PLoS One 2012; 7: e36226.
  2. Koksal, Y, et al. Acute Otitis Media In Children. J Ankara Med Sch 2002; 95: 19–24.
  3. Kong K and Coates HLC. Natural history, definitions, risk factors and burden of otitis media. Available at: [Last accessed June 2015].


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