Ear Infections Can Affect Language Development

Research psychologist Dr. Heather Winskel, from the University of Western Sydney has found that kids with recurrent middle ear infections prior to age three are more likely to have difficulty with language and literacy development later in life. Dr. Winskel looked at two groups of kids at 6 to 8 years of age. One group had recurrent ear infections early in life and another group had no such experiences. The group that had experienced multiple ear infections before age 3, performed more poorly on measures of phonological awareness, semantic knowledge, and reading ability.

While this research is cause for concern, it should not be alarming. 70% of kids have a least one ear infection early in life. These experiences are very common. The danger is when multiple ear infections are evident early in life. If these infections go unnoticed for a significant length of time, it can interfere with the brain's natural receptive language development and in turn affect academic abilities such as phonological awareness, semantic knowledge and reading ability. Awareness and prompt medical attention can prevent this outcome.

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