Many years ago, a group of parents and professionals discussed concerns about the emergence of a regressive autistic-like syndrome, later named Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), which is on the autism spectrum.
All knew children whose development regressed following frequent otitis media (inner ear infections.)
Could ear infections and autism and/or PDD be linked?
The autism epidemic now claims an estimated one in 36 children.
Some experts suspect the mercury-based preservative thimerosal as a major culprit, but one factor is not responsible for PDD or autism. Ear infections remain shadowy contributors.
Perhaps a subgroup of children on the autistic spectrum, including those with attention deficits and learning disabilities, have a condition named Post-Traumatic Ear Infection Syndrome (PTEIS).
These kids are apparently normal at birth, develop continuous ear infections and subsequent auditory processing issues and developmental delays as a result of complications from sustained damage to the inner ear from both the disease and its treatment.
Why Are Ear Infections Such a Problem?
Frequent ear infections are a sign of weak immune function.
Most children on the autism spectrum have underlying immune problems.
Either they are born with weak immunity, making them more reactive to foods; or they react to foods, thus weakening their immune systems.
Resultant ear infections are the symptom of a deeper underlying problem.
A classic study done by Talal Nsouli in 1991 found that about 90% of children with otitis media have food allergies.
When the offenders are removed from the diet, ear infections subside.
Kids with food allergies get sick more often because their immune systems focus on reacting to foods, rather than on fighting germs.
Antibiotics used to treat ear infections may make children more susceptible to mercury damage.
Preliminary studies by Dr. Boyd Haley, the world authority on mercury, found that the antibiotics ampicillin and tetracycline increase thimerosal-induced neuronal death.
In other words, less mercury does more damage in the presence of these antibiotics.
Furthermore, all antibiotics kill good gut bacteria, essential to resist mercury uptake.
Allergies, ear infections, thimerosal and antibiotics are a potent cocktail for autism.
A child eats an allergic food and develops an ear infection.
The doctor prescribes an antibiotic, killing both good and bad bacteria, leaving the gut lining irritated, and further stimulating an allergic response.
Now the child is more reactive to foods, and develops additional ear infections, thus perpetuating an illness cycle.
Introduce into this disturbing spiral thimerosal.
Who will be more likely to sustain the damage, the toddler with an already irritated gut lining and reactive immune system, or a healthy child?
Dr. James Adams found that children with autism had ten times more ear infections during the first three years than typical kids.
Ear infections are associated with auditory processing problems.
Children are born with hearing but they must learn how to listen.
Ear infections that occur during critical developmental milestones periods negatively affect auditory processing.
Youngsters whose ears are clogged up with fluid cannot interact appropriately with their environments.
Between birth and three children learn to distinguish sounds and interpret them in context.
They must filter out unimportant sounds such as the air conditioning, and focus on important ones, such as their mother’s voice.
Distracted and inattentive behavior is the result of the inability to sort significant auditory input from the extraneous.
Studies have found that middle and high school students who are more distracted than their peers experienced early ear infections.
What To Do About Ear Infections
Remove problematic foods.
The four problem foods most associated with ear infections are dairy products, wheat, soy and eggs.
Before trying an extreme elimination diet, consider taking foods made from cow’s milk out of the diet first.
This change alone is often sufficient to reduce or stop infections.
Use good bacteria.
Probiotics, available in the refrigerator section of health food stores, balance the digestive tract and reduce allergic tendencies.
It may take some trial and error to find the right product for your individual situation.
Some are too strong and will increase gas and irritability; others are not potent enough.
If symptoms do not alleviate in a few days, reduce the dose or change brands.
PTEIS is very common and mostly preventable.
If you have a child who has had three or more ear infections, do not wait.
We have learned the importance of taking preventive action.
For more information read Schmidt’s Healing Childhood Ear Infections and McCandless’ Children with Starving Brains.
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