Ear infections in autistic and normal children

J Autism Dev Disord. 1987 Dec;17(4):585-94. doi: 10.1007/BF01486973.


The frequency of ear infections, ear tube drainage, and deafness was examined through parental reports in autistic and yoke-matched, normal children. For the autistic group these difficulties were additionally examined as a function of the children's cognitive and communication abilities, verbal versus nonverbal status, sex, and degree of autistic symptomatology. Autistic children had a greater incidence of ear infections than matched normal peers. Lower-functioning children had an earlier onset of ear infections than their higher-functioning autistic peers. Ear infections coexisted with low-set ears, and with a higher autistic symptomatology score. The findings are discussed in terms of greater CNS vulnerability in the autistic children, which is likely present since embryogenesis. The possible adverse consequences of intermittent hearing loss on language, cognitive, and socioaffective development are considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autistic Disorder / complications*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Otitis Media / etiology*
  • Risk Factors