Ear Infections and AutismMany 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.

Still Looking for Answers?

Visit the Epidemic Answers Provider Directory to find a practitioner near you.

Related Pages

Alexa and Sergio: Lyme and Autism

Almost Autism with Maria Rickert Hong

Anthony: Autism and Apraxia

Autism Causes

Autism, Environment, Subtypes and Remission with Norm Schwartz MD

The Autism Exchange

Autism Play

Autism Prevention – Early Choices

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism and Vision

AutoImmunity and Autism

Before Autism, After Autism

Biomedical Testing for Autism, ADHD, SPD and Chronic Disorders

Birth Trauma: A Common Cause of Developmental Delays

“The Diet” (Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet)

Diet Basics

DIR Floortime for Children with Autism

Educational Kinesiology, Brain Gym, Autism and Other Challenges

Ella: Almost Autism

Essential Nutrients

Exploring the Gluten Free Casein Free Diet

Fat and Brain Development

The Fish Isn’t Sick, The Water’s Dirty: Autism and Environmental Toxins

Food Sensitivities and Intolerances

Glutathione and Autism

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet

Healing Diets and Foods

A Healthy Diet for Autism, ADHD, Allergies, Asthma and More

Homeopathy and Autism, ADHD and Other Developmental Delays

How Do I Know If an Autism Treatment Helps?

How Not to Have a Child with Autism

IgG Allergies in Autism, ADHD, Asthma, Autoimmune and More

The Importance of Retained Reflexes in Developmental Delays

Improving Cognitive Function Through Supplementation

Johnny and Nate: Autism

The Leaky Gut and Autism, ADHD and Other Developmental Delays

Leo: Autism

Light Sensitivity and Autism, ADHD, SPD and Developmental Delays

Magnesium: The Super-Mineral

Metallothionein and Autism Update

Mia: Autism

Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Autism

Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Autism with Dr. Suzanne Goh

NAET for ADHD and Autism

A New Model Offering Hope for Autism Recovery

The New Normal: 1 in 68 Children with Autism

Noah: Autism and Mold Toxicity

Nourishing Hope for Autism, ADHD, Aspergers and Allergies with Julie Matthews

Nutrition and Autism

Nutrition and Autism, ADHD, SPD and Other Developmental Delays

Nutrition 101

Nutritional Supplementation and Autism, ADHD, SPD and Other Delays

Nutrient Therapy for Autism

Oral Motor Sensory Therapy and Autism

Outsmarting Autism with Patty Lemer


PANS/PANDAS with Lauren Stone (webinar replay)

Pediatric Chiropractic for Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and Developmental Delays

The Picky Eaters

Prioritizing Interventions for Autism, PDD-NOS, SPD and ADHD

Pycnogenol and Autism, ADHD, SPD and Other Developmental Delays

Retained Reflexes

Sensory Diet

Sensory Processing Disorder

Sleep Strategies for Autism, ADHD, SPD and Other Developmental Delays

SPD, ADHD and Autism Calming Strategies

Stephanie Seneff, PhD: Roundup, GMOs, Autism, ADHD and Autoimmune Disorders

The Straight Scoop on the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet

Three Myths about Healing Diets for ADHD, Autism and Anxiety

Thyroid Dysfunction and Autism, ADHD, SPD and Other Developmental Delays

Total Load Theory

Undiagnosed Lyme Disease

Vision Therapy for Autism, ADHD, SPD and Learning Disabilities

Vitamin A Autism Treatment Spurs Breakthrough for Child

Vitamin D Deficiency

What Is Good Food?

What Is the Difference Between Autism and ADHD or Other Developmental Delays?

Why Diet Matters


  1. Tony Gordon

    See ResearchGate for a list of my publications, many of which comment on the link between otitis media and autism, including a literature review noting that regressive autism occurred with otitis. I think autism is a variant of peripheral deafness, often with a perilymph fistula, where fluid leaks from the inner ear into into the middle ear, which causes otitis.

  2. Victoria Midkiff

    I always suspected there was something about the ears and hearing and/or balance connected with my son’s autism. When he was an infant (before 3 months old), he started grabbing at his ears. He was slow in language development. He could make the typical consonant sounds, but not the vowel sounds. He didn’t start cooing until a few days before he would have been 3 months old. That was only after I got a mirror and made cooing sounds for him in front of the mirror, emphasizing my mouth movements. He was also slow to follow with his eyes. When the nurse from early intervention tested him, he did not look in the correct direction when she made a sound. When I had first notice his ear-pulling, I took him to the doctor, who told me there was nothing wrong. Eventually he had hearing tests where electrodes were put on his head, but I was told his hearing was normal. When he turned out to have autism, I 1) was sure it did not have anything to do with the MMR vaccination, because his problems occurred prior to 18 months, and 2) I was sure it had something to do with hearing or balance (inner ear) issues. I do have to say before closing, my son had a twin brother who was born with profound mental and physical handicaps that were very rare. His tissue was sent at least twice to St Jude, and he was in the hospital the first five months of his life. I also need to note that my son and his twin brother were separated eight days after birth when I was able to bring the healthy twin home from the hospital. I wasn’t allowed to bring my son back to the hospital after he left. I kept asking if my sons could see each other and interact, but because of risk of contamination in the NICU, the nurses refused. After months of lobbying on my part, my boys were allowed, each one, to be put up to the window at the doorway to the NICU. They saw each other for the first time the Thursday before they were 3 months old. My healthy son started cooing about two hours later, just after I got him back home and he had time to relax.

  3. Ryan price

    Exactly to the point, this article is just like reading about my son. Mason now 3 and a half years old developed his first ear infection at 17 months to the point he was like a drunken old man couldn’t stand up even fell into the Christmas tree. We rushed him to the emergency room where he was treated for otitis media and gave antibiotics. What concerned me was that mum had an ear infection a week before Mason and was prescribed ear drops as they said regular antibiotics would be able to reach the infection in her inner ear. Explained this to the doctors who ignored my concerns. For the next 12 months Mason was always tugging at his ears and seemed in a lot of discomfort even in pain with them. They was always leaking a lot of wax and even developed a further 2 infections which he was prescribed antibiotics again. After countless visits to A&E and docs they keep telling me his ears are fine and tugging there ears is a comfort thing. Masons had a lot of antibiotics for various infections including infected exzema, hands foot and mouth disease, viral meningitis, tonsillitis just to name a few. He also developed (RAS) anoxic seizures his heart must of stopped 30 times by now and has literally been blue and ghastly. he doesn’t have these so often now but instead he has traded them for night terrors. Anyway we noticed everytime he had antibiotics his earing seemed to get worse we’ve asked the doctors if our suspected earing difficulties could have been caused by this with very little response. All these issues are still ongoing with Mason who to me is showing strong signs of autism. Before 18 months old his development was very very quick and could already put a couple of words together and communicate well with us up to that point we was delighted with his development but unfortunately it has stayed there. now at 3 and half he really struggles with speach most of what he says comes out like a different language all jumbled up he gets very upset but he can’t explain what it is that he wants sometimes when he wants something as simple as a drink it can be difficult to interpret. He hardly plays properly with toys instead he ties them altogether with wires and plugs and is more interested inights and sockets. We have become very tired as he does not sleep and his eating behaviours are terrible very difficult to get proper food in him. He won’t stay at the table and goes off doing 20 different activities at the same time before returning to the table for another bite. Our once very happy boy now seems to suffer daily he is always very emotional and upset and it kills us. It wasn’t until school raised there concerns that we now have an appointment with a paediatrician in January and he still hasn’t had a successful referral to an audiologist. It makes me sick that parents are never listened to with our concerns we know our children best not some teachers who are only concerned because they can’t handle him. Just hope we’re not to late for him to make any form of recovery. Thank you for the article.

Leave a Comment