To the Editor—I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the interesting remarks of Dr Shambaugh1 concerning the possible importance of hidden food allergies as causal factors in secretory otitis media.
This relationship has repeatedly been brought forward in the literature and at meetings, but, by consulting our "conventional allergist" and on perusal of the literature,2-6 we have not been able to correlate the two diseases in a meaningful way.
Food allergy and hypersensitivity incidences have been variously estimated as ranging from 0.3% to 7.5%, with the incidence decreasing with age. However, in controlled trials where investigators challenged children with suspected adverse food reactions, only 20% to 30% of the claims could be confirmed. Extrapolating from these surveys, the incidence of adverse food reactions is probably 4% to 7% in infants and 1% to 2% in young children.
Adverse reactions to food in adults probably occur in less
THOMSEN J. Antibiotic Treatment of Children With Secretory Otitis Media. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1990;116(8):978. doi:10.1001/archotol.1990.01870080100028
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