This survey examines the age at onset of acute otitis media (AOM) in 591 unselected Greenlandic children aged 3, 4, 5 and 8 years from the two largest towns in Greenland. The attendance rate was 86%. Parental information about episodes of AOM was cross-checked in medical records, which were available for 95% of the children. AOM was defined as episodes with earache, otorrhoea or previous treatment for AOM, with written otoscopic evidence of AOM resulting in treatment with weak analgetics or antibiotics. Recurrent AOM (rAOM) was defined as > or = 5 AOM episodes since birth. In total, 66% of the children had experienced AOM at least once. Of all children, 40% had AOM during the first year of life. Median age of the first episode was 10 months (range: 1-84 months), and there was no sex difference. Children between 7 and 12 months of age were at highest risk of AOM. Children with rAOM had their first AOM episode at a significantly younger age than children with
OBJECTIVE: To describe the sociomedical risk factors associated with episodes of acute otitis media (AOM), recurrent AOM (rAOM), and chronic otitis media (COM) in Greenlandic children and especially to point out children at high risk of rAOM (defined as > 5 AOM episodes since birth) and COM which are prevalent among Inuit children all over the Arctic. METHODS: The study design was cross-sectional and included 740 unselected children, 3, 4, 5, and 8-years-old, living in two major Greenlandic towns, Nuuk and Sisimiut. All children were otologically examined and the parents answered a questionnaire containing sociomedical variables including ethnicity, family history of OM, housing, insulation, crowding, daycare, passive cigarette smoking, breast feeding, type of diet, allergy, and chronic diseases. Historical data were cross-checked in medical records which also formed the basis for the drop-out analyses. Statistical analyses included frequency tests, calculation of odds ratio (OR), and multiple logistic regression. RESULTS: The attendance rate was 86%. Former episode of AOM was reported by 2/3 of the children, rAOM by 20%, and COM by 9%. The following variables were found significantly more often in children with AOM by simple frequency testing: Parental (OR = 1.83), sibling (OR = 1.62), and parental plus sibling (OR = 2.56) history of OM, crowding (OR = 5.55), long period of exclusive breast feeding ( > 4 months) (OR = 2.47), and recent acute disease (P = 0.034). The following variables were found significantly more often in children with rAOM or COM by simple frequency testing: Parental history of OM (OR = 1.60; OR = 2.11, respectively) and no recall of breast feeding (P = 0.005; P = 0.003, respectively). Also, COM was found significantly more often in children with two Greenlandic parents (OR = 3.07). A multiple logistic regression test denoted only parental history of OM (OR = 1.82) and long period of exclusive breast feeding (OR = 1.14) as significant predictors of AOM. CONCLUSIONS: Many of the risk factors usually associated with AOM could not be confirmed as risk factors in this survey. Parental history of OM and long period of exclusive breast feeding were the strongest factors associated with AOM in Greenlandic children and ethnicity was associated with COM. However, the study confirms that AOM is a multifactorial disease determined by a number of genetic and environmental factors.
In an unselected survey in two Greenlandic towns, 591 children were examined to study the prevalence of otitis media (OM). The attendance rate in Nuuk was 80%, while 93% participated in Sisimiut. The children were three-, four-, five- and eight-years-old and represented 18% of children in these age groups in all Greenland. In total, 51.7% in Nuuk and 54.1% in Sisimiut presented pathologic middle ear affections ranging from slight to severe. The prevalence rates of chronic OM (COM) were 6.8% in Nuuk and 11.7% in Sisimiut (P = 0.055) but without significant age or sex difference. The acute OM point prevalence rate was between 1.5% and 0.4%. The prevalence rate of middle ear effusion (MEE) was between 23.0% and 28.2%. Secretory OM was significantly more prevalent in the younger age groups. The odds ratio of having COM was significantly higher in children with two Greenlandic born parents (3.07) than in children with only one Greenlandic born parent. A follow-up study after one year in Sisimiut revealed unchanged or aggravated middle ear disease in 56.8% of 82 children with middle ear pathology at the primary survey. Thus, OM persists as a major health problem among Greenlandic children, although the general socio-economic and medical conditions have improved during the last decades. Proposals are provided for increased otologic efforts.