Nineteen studies on the relationship between otitis media (OM) or otitis media with effusion (OME) (secretory otitis media (SOM)) and reading achievement were reviewed. The result is that the children catch up in cognitive development when their ears and hearing become normal at about school age. The correlations that have been found between SOM and reading achievement are so small that they have no practical importance for the average child. At the present time we have no knowledge that justifies intervention against SOM as a general preventive task to ensure the cognitive development, or reading achievement. The absent or very small correlation between SOM and reading in the reviewed studies, 'explaining' only 2-4% of the variance, has no implications in comparison with other important factors. Reading achievement was more closely correlated with cognitive, language, and linguistic factors, and to a series of socioenvironmental and classroom related factors. The high frequency of SOM, with resulting hearing loss, and the long duration and high rate of occurrence of OM in 'otitis-prone' children, and clinical observations underlines the need for further research.