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Ear infections and Speech Delay

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

By Violette Godier-Ruess, M. S. CCC-SLP

Has your baby / toddler/ child had frequent ear infections? Can you count how many in the last few months? Are they severe - double ear infections, ear drum ruptures, drainage? Your child could now be more prone to being speech and language delayed.

Why? Well, every time you have an ear infection, even a mild one, your hearing becomes muffled. Even if its only in 1 ear, the stuffed up, muffled effect of an ear infection has a big impact on your child. What they hear in their environment is reduced, meaning their exposure to sounds, words and language is reduced. Now, say the ear infection lasts 1-2 weeks. That is 1 -2 weeks of reduced exposure to speech. Now multiply that by how many ear infections they have had. Your child may now be more prone to speech and language delay.

Your child may have a speech delay or speech and language delay if they cannot:

  • Say a few first words between 12 months and 15 months

  • Understand simple commands like, "no", "come here"

  • Talk in short sentences by 3 years old

  • Tell a simple story at 4- 5 years old

Hearing loss is a leading cause of speech and language delay/ speech delay.

If your child has more than 3 ear infections in a 6 month period, it is time to make an appointment with the Ear Nose and Throat doctor, (the ENT), and an Audiologist. The ENT will do a clinical assessment of the child's ears, and the Audiologist will measure the child's hearing. Pediatric offices can even do this with babies! The ENT will make recommendations based on the results of the Audiology testing and clinical assessment. This may include ear tube placement (tympanostomy tubes).

If you suspect speech delay, also make an appointment to see a Speech Language Pathologist. After a complete assessment they will set goals for your child so they can start meeting their speech and language milestones.

Taking these measures will ensure your child has the best start to their life of learning. Speech delay can impact reading and writing skills, social skills, and ability to learn new information.

Hello Speech and Language Services LLC is based in Red Bank, NJ and specializes in early childhood speech and language.

Contact us today for a free initial consultation (732) 290-5158,

Has your child had an ear infection?

  • Yes

  • No

  • So many!

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