Skip to main content

Survey of motion sickness susceptibility in children and adolescents aged 3 months to 18 years


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. Schmäl F (2013) Neuronal mechanisms and the treatment of motion sickness. Pharmacology 91:229–241

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Money KE (1970) Motion sickness. Physiol Rev 50:1–39

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Brandt T, Wenzel D, Dichgans J (1976) Visual stabilization of free stance in infants: a sign of maturity (article in German). Arch Psychiat Nervenkr 223:1–13

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Sharma K (1980) Susceptibility to motion sickness. Acta Genet Med Gemellol 29:157–162

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Henriques IF, de Oliveira DWD, Oliveira-Ferreira F, Andrade PMO (2014) Motion sickness prevalence in school children. Eur J Pediatr 173:1473–1482

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Dobie T, McBride D, Dobie T Jr, May J (2001) The effects of age and sex on susceptibility to motion sickness. Aviat Space Environ Med 72:13–20

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Brandt T, Bauer M, Benson J, Huppert D (2016) Motion sickness in ancient China: seasickness and cart-sickness. Neurology 87:331–335

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Huppert D, Benson J, Brandt T (2017) A historical view on motion sickness—a plague at sea and on land, also with military impact. Front Neurol 8:114.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  9. Huppert D, Oldelehr H, Krammling B, Benson J, Brandt T (2016) What the ancient Greeks and Romans knew (and did not know) about seasickness. Neurology 86:560–565

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Bos JE, Damala D, Lewis C, Ganguly A, Turan O (2007) Susceptibility to seasickness. Ergonomics 50:890–901

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Huppert D, Langhagen T, Brandt T (2017) Benign course of episodic dizziness disorders in childhood. J Neurol 264:4–6

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Golding JF (1998) Motion sickness susceptibility questionnaire revised and its relationship to other forms of sickness. Brain Res Bull 47:507–516

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Lawther A, Griffin MJ (1988) A survey of the occurrence of motion sickness amongst passengers at sea. Aviat Space Environ Med 59:399–406

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Llano GA (1955). Airmen against the sea—an analysis of sea survival experiences. Maxwell AFB, Research Studies Institute, ADTIC Publ G-104

  15. Sharma K (1997) Prevalence and correlates of susceptibility to motion sickness. Acta Genet Med Gemellol 46:105–121

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Park AH, Hu S (1999) Gender differences in motion sickness history and susceptibility to optokinetic rotation-induced motion sickness. Aviat Space Environ Med 70:1077–1080

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Huppert D, Grill E, Brandt T (2013) Down on heights? One in three has visual height intolerance. J Neurol 260:597–604

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Chang CH, Pan WW, Tseng LY, Stoffregen TA (2012) Postural activity and motion sickness during video game play in children and adults. Exp Brain Res 217:299–309

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Turner M, Griffin MJ (1999) Motion sickness in public road transport: the relative importance of motion, vision and individual differences. Br J Psychol 90:519–530

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Golding JF, Gresty MA (2015) Pathophysiology and treatment of motion sickness. Curr Opin Neurol 28:83–88

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Strupp M, Brandt T, Huppert D, Grill E (2018) Prevalence of motion sickness in various vestibular disorders: a study on 749 patients. J Neurol 265:95–97

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. James W (1882) The sense of dizziness in deaf mutes. Am J Otol 4:239–254

    Google Scholar 

  23. Kennedy RS, Graybiel A, McDonough RC, Beckwith FD (1968) Symptomatology under storm conditions in the north Atlantic in control subjects and in persons with bilateral labyrinthine defects. Acta Otolaryngol 66:533–540

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Miller EF, Graybiel A (1972) Semicircular canals as a primary etiological factor in motion sickness. Aerospace Med 43:1065–1074

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Graybiel A (1970) Susceptibility to acute motion sickness in blind persons. Aerospace Med 41:650–653

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Takahashi M, Toriyabe I, Takei Y, Kanzaki J (1994) Study on experimental motion sickness in children. Acta Otolaryngol (Stockh) 114:231–237

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Barabas G, Matthews SW, Ferrari M (1983) Childhood migraine and motion sickness. Pediatrics 72:188–190

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Arruda MA, Guidetti V, Galli F, Albuquerque RC, Bigal ME (2010) Childhood periodic syndromes: a population-based study. Pediatr Neurol 43:420–424

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Huppert D, Brandt T (2015) Fear of heights and visual height intolerance in children 8 to 10 years. J Child Adol Behav 3:4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Barabas G, Matthews WS, Ferrari M (1984) Motion sickness in children with Tourette’s syndrome. Ann Neurol 15:309

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Dichgans J, Brandt T (1978) Visual-vestibular interaction: effects on self-motion perception and postural control. In: Held R, Leibowitz HW, Teuber H-L (eds) Handbook of sensory physiology, vol 8. Perception. Springer, Berlin, pp 755–804

    Google Scholar 

  32. Reason T (1978) Motion sickness adaptation: a neural mismatch model. J R Soc Med 71:819–829

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  33. Brandt T, Daroff RB (1980) The multisensory physiological and pathological vertigo syndromes. Ann Neurol 7:195–203

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Zhang LL, Wang JQ, Qi RR, Pan LL, Li M, Cai YL (2016) Motion sickness: current knowledge and recent advance. CNS Neurosci Ther 22:15–24

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


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.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Doreen Huppert.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest

Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The authors state that they complied with ethical standards and the study was in accord with the Helsinki declaration.

Additional information

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.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: