Trends in Pediatric Acute Otitis Media Burden during the First COVID-19 Year

Tal Marom, Yehuda Schwarz, Ofer Gluck, Gabriel Ginzburg, Sharon Ovnat Tamir

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective To study the changes in acute otitis media (AOM) pediatric emergency department (PED) visits and pediatric admission before and during the first coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) year. Study Design Retrospective case review. Setting Secondary care center. Patients Children younger than 18 years with all-cause and AOM-related PED visits and pediatric admissions for 3 years (March 1, 2018-January 28, 2021) were identified. Children were categorized according to age (0-2, 2-6, and 6-18 yr) and their date of presentation: pre-COVID-19 (yearly average of visits/admissions during the 2 prepandemic years: March 1, 2018-February 28, 2019 and March 1, 2019-February 29, 2020) or COVID-19 year (visits/admissions between March 1, 2020-February 28, 2021). Intervention Pre- and post-COVID-19 emergence, alternating lockdowns, kindergarten and school closures, and increased hygiene measures. Main Outcome Measure Post- versus pre-COVID-19 AOM PED visit and pediatric admission incidence rate ratios (IRRs), using a generalized estimating equation model with a negative binomial regression calculation, while controlling for monthly fluctuations. Results Annual AOM visits/admissions during the pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 years were 517 and 192 and 256 and 94, respectively (p < 0.05 for both). For children aged 0 to 2 years, AOM visits/admissions significantly decreased during the first COVID-19 year, compared with the pre-COVID years (β = -1.11 [IRR, 0.33; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.26-0.42; p < 0.005] and β = -1.12 [IRR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.25-0.42; p < 0.005]). Relatively to all-cause of children aged 0 to 2 years, AOM visits/admissions decreased during the first COVID-19 year versus the pre-COVID-19 years (β = -2.14 [IRR, 0.12; 95% CI, 0.08-0.17; p < 0.005] and β = -1.36 [IRR, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.23-0.29; p < 0.005]) and had monthly fluctuations coinciding with the lockdown/relaxation measures. For children aged 2 to 6 years, the reduction in AOM admissions was significant (β = -1.70, IRR, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.09-0.37; p < 0.005). No significant differences were observed for children aged 6 to 18 years because of the small sample size. Conclusion Pediatric AOM burden substantially decreased during the first COVID-19 year.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E760-E766
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • Acute otitis media
  • Admission
  • COVID-19
  • Epidemiology
  • Lockdown
  • Mastoiditis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Clinical Neurology


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