Otitis media at 6-monthly assessments of Australian First Nations children between ages 12–36 months: Findings from two randomised controlled trials of combined pneumococcal conjugate vaccines

A. J. Leach, N. Wilson, B. Arrowsmith, J. Beissbarth, E. K. Mulholland, M. Santosham, P. J. Torzillo, P. McIntyre, H. Smith-Vaughan, S. A. Skull, V. M. Oguoma, M. Chatfield, D. Lehmann, M. J. Binks, P. V. Licciardi, R. Andrews, T. Snelling, V. Krause, J. Carapetis, A. B. ChangP. S. Morris

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Objectives: In remote communities of northern Australia, First Nations children with hearing loss are disproportionately at risk of poor school readiness and performance compared to their peers with no hearing loss. The aim of this trial is to prevent early childhood persisting otitis media (OM), associated hearing loss and developmental delay. To achieve this, we designed a mixed pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) schedule that could maximise immunogenicity and thereby prevent bacterial otitis media (OM) and a trajectory of educational and social disadvantage.

Methods: In two sequential parallel, open-label, randomised controlled trials, eligible infants were first allocated 1:1:1 to standard or mixed PCV primary schedules at age 28–38 days, then at age 12 months to a booster dose (1:1) of 13-valent PCV, PCV13 (Prevenar13®, +P), or 10-valent pneumococcal non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae protein D conjugated vaccine, PHiD-CV10 (Synflorix®, +S). Here we report findings of standardised ear assessments conducted six-monthly from age 12–36 months, by booster dose. 

Results: From March 2013 to September 2018, 261 children were allocated to booster + P (n = 131) or + S (n = 130). There were no significant differences in prevalence of any OM diagnosis by booster dose or when stratified by primary schedule. We found high, almost identical prevalence of OM in both boost groups at each age (for example 88% of 129 and 91% of 128 children seen, respectively, at primary endpoint age 18 months, difference −3% [95% Confidence Interval −11, 5]). At each age prevalence of bilateral OM was 52%–78%, and tympanic membrane perforation was 10%–18%. Conclusion: Despite optimal pneumococcal immunisation, the high prevalence of OM persists throughout early childhood. Novel approaches to OM prevention are needed, along with improved early identification strategies and evaluation of expanded valency PCVs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111776
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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