Link discovered between common ear, nose, and throat issues in early childhood and Autism

25 Apr 2023 • A study published in BMJ Open explores the connection between ear, nose, and throat (ENT) issues in early childhood and autism. Researchers analysed data from more than 10,000 young children up to the age of four years and the study was carried out in Bristol. The researchers aimed to determine if early ear and upper respiratory signs were associated with the development of autistic traits.

  • The study identified 177 children with a probable diagnosis of autism, consisting of 139 boys and 38 girls.
  • The researchers found that the frequency of certain ENT symptoms, such as breathing through the mouth, snoring, ear pulling/poking, ears going red, deterioration of hearing during a cold, ear discharge and rarely listening was associated with high scores on each of the autism traits and those with a clinical diagnosis of autism.
  • The results revealed that pus or sticky mucus discharge from the ears was especially associated with autism, with an increased risk of 3.29, and impaired hearing during a cold showed an increased risk of 2.18.

The study does not prove that these conditions cause autism or that children with autism are more likely to suffer from these illnesses. It does, however, add to the pattern of results reported in the literature indicating that autistic children have a different early medical history compared to non-autistic children.

Source: BMJ Open | Read full story

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