Infectious Disease Lay Summaries

A review of the evidence confirms the importance of genetic risk in susceptibility to otitis media

Keywords: otitis media, level of evidence, genetic association, genetic susceptibility

What is already known about this subject:

  • Otitis media, or inflammation of the middle ear, is a common disease in early childhood that can lead to hearing loss, speech delays and learning difficulties. Some children experience severe otitis media; some have recurrent bouts and others have episodes lasting more than three months.
  • Genetic studies have identified a number of genes contributing to susceptibility to otitis media. This study reviews the genetic risk factors and limitations in published otitis media research in order to gain a ‘bigger picture’ view of the evidence and to provide suggestions for future studies.

What this Raine study adds:

  • A review of the published literature investigating the genetic inheritance of otitis media confirmed the usefulness of genetic studies in identifying genetic risk factors contributing to otitis media in childhood.
  • Future genetic studies need to include enough participants to ensure that genes with small effects are able to be detected.
  • Despite the large body of research investigating the factors contributing to otitis media, lots more remains to be discovered.

Rye, Marie S., Jenefer M. Blackwell, and Sarra E. Jamieson. 2012. Genetic Susceptibility to Otitis Media in Childhood. Laryngoscope. doi:10.1002/lary.22506. [publink]