Many young children are undergoing needless operations, according to a bulletin funded by the Department of Health.
Glue ear is the commonest reason for children to have elective surgery, on the grounds that it causes hearing impairment which can lead to speech delay and learning difficulties. Nevertheless, there is no real evidence that glue ear actually causes any significant problems, says Effective Health Care (November 1992). Most children will recover spontaneously after a short time. While nearly half of allthree year olds may suffer from glue ear, only 5 per cent will have hearing difficulties in both ears lasting for at least three months.
Effective Health Care recommends a period of "watchful waiting" accompanied by high quality hearing tests.