I was excited to hear this story on NPR yesterday about a recommendation from two different studies that doctors treat ear infections in young children rather than use the wait-and-see method which has been pushed the last few years.
From a learning disabilities perspective, children who develop chronic ear infections are more likely to develop an auditory processing disorder or language delays. Children begin attending to language in their environment around the same time chronic ear infections occur, resulting in an inconsistent sound-mapping if chronic ear infections go untreated. (Koksal, 2002). Multiple studies have found that children with chronic ear infections are more likely to develop delayed phonological development and a have low scores on reading, vocabulary, and expression assessments (Abraham, 1996, Shirbereg, 2002). One Dutch study found a link between chronic ear infections and poor social interaction skills (Timmerman, 2002).
(can you tell I recently did a paper on this? Ask me anything...)
There is a lot of research out there and having chronic ear infections is not an automatic learning disability sentence, but it is good to know that doctors are now encouraged to be more proactive about treating these ear infections.