We conducted two representative, cross-sectional, population-based surveys on the susceptibility to motion sickness (MSS) in childhood: One was targeted at parents with children aged 6 months to 18 years (7569 households approached) and the other at parents with children aged 3 months to 5 years (12,720 households approached). In both surveys 3285 parents provided information on 5041 children. The main findings in the first survey were: 369 children (9.2%) were susceptible to motion sickness with a slight female preponderance, and in the second study 16 (1.2%) were susceptible; first occurrence of motion sickness (MS) below the age of 1 year was exceptionally rare (n = 2); if MS occurred after the age of 1 year it was more severe in the younger children, most pronounced between the age of 6 and 9 years; the frequency of MSS was highest in the range between the age of 4 and 13 years; in postpubertal children and adolescents MSS frequency declined. The course of MSS frequency from infancy to adolescence is an inverse U-shaped curve. It is characterised by three phases which may be related to the visual-vestibular mismatch theory, the major pathophysiological cause of MS. Phase one is a high resistance in the first year of life. In this phase infants may be less subject to visual-vestibular mismatch, because they do not yet use visual cues for self-motion perception. Phase two is a prepubertal peak. This is possibly due to an oversensitivity to a visual-vestibular mismatch, which reflects sensorimotor maturation. Phase three is a postpubertal decline. This can be explained by habituation through repetitive motion stimulation during various kinds of vehicle transportations.
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The authors thank Katie Göttlinger for copyediting the manuscript. The study was supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research, the IFBLMU, and the Hertie Foundation.
Conflicts of interest
Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The authors state that they complied with ethical standards and the study was in accord with the Helsinki declaration.
This manuscript is part of a supplement sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the funding initiative for integrated research and treatment centers.
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Huppert, D., Grill, E. & Brandt, T. Survey of motion sickness susceptibility in children and adolescents aged 3 months to 18 years. J Neurol 266 (Suppl 1), 65–73 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-019-09333-w