Ear Infections, Learning Disabilities & Baby Language Development
There has been a lot of research done with regard to the effects of frequent ear infections, and it does not seem that there is a relationship between recurrent ear infections and subsequent language development or learning—unless the child has other risk factors, such as being raised in an environment where there is limited language exposure and stimulation. At one time, there were questions about a link with subsequent attention deficits, but there also have been conflicting research findings in that regard, and there currently is no solid evidence for that link.
A child who has frequent ear infections with persistence of fluid in the middle ear may have a mild degree of associated conductive hearing loss, but this is only for sounds softer than 50 decibels, as louder sounds get transmitted through the bone behind the ear, directly to the cochlea (the hearing apparatus).
Such a child still will be able to hear speech, but might have some difficulty with softer sounds, especially those that are higher pitched. That would explain why parents of children who have surgery for insertion of tubes into their eardrums because of repeated infections often report that their children seem to speak more clearly after the surgery.