Developmental Impact of ”Silent” Ear Health Conditions (2011), Autism Science Digest

The autism epidemic now claims an estimated 1 in 110 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2010). Although a variety of causes are being investigated, it is suspected that more than one factor is responsible. Kelly Dorfman, MS, a licensed nutritionist and co-founder of Developmental Delay Resources, has coined the term post-traumatic ear infection syndrome (PTEIS) to refer to children who are apparently normal at birth but in the aftermath of chronic ear infections and inflammation go on to develop auditory processing problems and developmental delays. For children on the autism spectrum, there may be a subgroup of such children for whom chronic ear infections and undiagnosed episodes of middle ear fluid and negative pressure are among the factors contributing to their developmental disabilities (Dorfman, 2004).

Unfortunately, otitis media, or middle ear inflammation, has become so common that many parents accept it as a normal condition of childhood. Parents therefore may not take the necessary step of learning more about its causes and what can be done to intervene and stop the chronic cycle of disease. When parents understand that “common” does not mean “normal,” they become more involved in seeking treatment directed at the underlying causes. When, in addition, parents understand the potential impact of recurrent middle ear inflammation on their child’s development, they are more likely to vigorously seek to put an end to the problem.

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