Culture Post: Ear Infections in Early Childhood Can Impact Language Development Years Later

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by StudyFinds.

Ear infections, while quite common in children, are largely considered little more than nuisances that clear up within a matter of days or weeks by parents and doctors alike. Now, however, new research suggests all caregivers should take these infections seriously. Scientists at the University of Florida have found that chronic ear infections during childhood may eventually lead to delays in language development.

Study authors explain that each and every ear infection can potentially impair hearing with fluid building up behind the eardrum. Over time, if ear infections become frequent in a child, this repeated, temporary hearing loss may promote deficits in auditory processing and language development years down the line.

“Ear infections are so common that we tend to dismiss them as having no long-term effect. We should take all ear infections seriously,” says Susan Nittrouer, lead researcher and a UF professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences in the College of Public Health and Health Professions, in a media release. “Parents should be aware that their child may have some middle ear fluid without it being painful and work with their doctor to monitor their child closely.”

The study revealed that kids who recovered from several ear infections before turning three years of age had smaller vocabularies and found it more difficult to match similar-sounding words than children with few or no ear infections. Those same children also exhibited difficulty detecting changes in sounds, which may be a sign of problems in their brain’s auditory processing centers.

Source: StudyFinds

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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