Dairy and ear infections: is there an association?

Dairy and Ear Infections

Image Credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Hi doc. Any research studies on dairy consumption and ear infections in children. My friend’s child had numerous ear infections and I recommended soy milk instead of cows milk plus to eliminate cheese, ice cream, etc. She asked a chief pediatric ENT at a big hospital who of course said there is no connection. Of course, if there were he wouldn’t make as much money so I’m sure he wouldn’t push that subject to anybody. This child incidentally was on numerous rounds of antibiotics and may have tubes inserted in her ears. I thought she should give it a try. Thanks Eric.

Ericjay / Originally asked on the NutritionFacts.org facebook page


The association between cow milk exposure and recurrent ear infections in susceptible children has been documented for 50 years. Though there are rare cases of pathogens in milk causing ear infections directly (then meningitis), the link is thought to be due to milk allergies. In fact there’s a respiratory disease called Heiner Syndrome, a lung disease of infants primarily caused by milk consumption that can cause ear infections.

Though milk allergy most often results in respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin symptoms, as many as 1 in 500 may suffer speech delay due to chronic inner ear inflammation. For 40 years there’s been a recommendation to try “a 3 month trial on a strict cow’s milk elimination diet” for children with recurrent ear infections, but Dr. Benjamin Spock, probably the most respected pediatrician of all time, ended up recommending a life-long elimination of cow’s milk. See my video: Doctors’ Nutritional Ignorance.

Image credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery / Flickr

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