Middle ear effusion (MEE) is a common childhood disease characterized by accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. MEE treatment focuses on the resultant conductive hearing loss. Recently, researchers have investigated the potential effects of MEE on balance. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare balance of children with MEE to that of healthy children and to examine whether a relation exists between balance skills and the degree of muscle strength. Methods: Twenty children with MEE and twenty healthy children aged 4.5-7.5 years underwent balance and strength sub-tests of Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Performance (BOTMP) and electronystagmography recordings (ENG). Parents completed a questionnaire designed to elicit their perceptions of their child's balance abilities in daily living activities. Results: MEE children performed significantly worse than did the control group on BOTMP balance sub-test. BOTMP strength subtest indicated that children with MEE had poorer muscle strength than the control group, although the difference was not significant. ENG results showed no pathologic recordings in both study group and control group. Finally, a significant correlation was found between parents' responses on the questionnaire and their child's performance on BOTMP balance subtest. Conclusions: MEE may negatively impact children's balance, while muscle strength is less affected. Furthermore, the BOTMP appears to be a sensitive assessment of balance disturbances in children with MEE.
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