In recent decades, several epidemiological studies have been published on acute otitis media (AOM), indicating that the occurrence of AOM is increasing. However, the comparison between the surveys is complicated and biased by several factors, e.g. variable study demography and design and dissimilar diagnostic criteria. The present study was performed with an identical set-up in 1978–9 and 1994–5 to find out potential changes in the occurrence of AOM. All the attacks of AOM among children under 10 years diagnosed by a physician during the 12-month periods 1 June, 1978 to 31 May 1979 and 1 June 1994 to 31 May 1995 were registered retrospectively in two Finnish municipalities. The incidence rate (total number of AOM attacks per 100 child years) was 19 (95% CI 18–21) in 1978–9 and 32 (95% CI 30–34) in 1994–5. The increase in the occurrence of AOM was 68% (95% CI 53–79%, P<0·001).
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