A study conducted on 7538 children (2-11 years of age) has shown that frequent ear infections early in childhood may result in development of asthma later in life. During a period of 6 years these children in the study were assessed for ear infection and asthma history and it was observed that those children with a history of ear infection were 57% more at risk of being diagnosed with asthma as compared to other children. Also, they were 70% more likely to have had wheezing in the previous year. The researchers concluded from the study that the risk of developing asthma and wheezing seemed to be directly related to the number of ear infections a child had.
Association with increased risk of ear infection was further found in non-Hispanic whites, well-educated parents, females who smoked during pregnancy. Male children were found more likely to be diagnosed with ear infection as compared to girls. However, the difference between the two was not statistically significant.
According to the researchers the association with well-educated parents could probably be due to the fact that such parents tend to keep their children in day-care centres where chances of catching cold and consequently having recurrent ear infection are more. It could also be possible that people in the higher educated class have better access to healthcare; hence there are more chances of it getting diagnosed.
In addition to this researchers also feel that the viruses or bacteria causing ear infection may have a major contribution in the development of asthma or it may be possible that the antibiotics, which are commonly prescribed for ear infections, may increase the risk of developing asthma. However, the exact cause has still not been established and some more research and studies will be needed in this area.