Cow's milk allergy is associated with recurrent otitis media during childhood

Acta Otolaryngol. 1999;119(8):867-73. doi: 10.1080/00016489950180199.


To determine whether cow's milk allergy (CMA) in infancy is associated with recurrent otitis media (ROM) or other chronic ear infections, we conducted a cohort study by enrolling 56 milk-allergic and 204 control schoolchildren. We also studied the association between ear problems and different atopic manifestations. A higher proportion of children with CMA had had ROM. defined as at least 15 acute otitis media episodes by the age of 10 years (27%, vs 12%, p = 0.009), and had undergone adenoidectomy and or tympanostomy compared with the controls (48%, vs 28%, p = 0.005). However, this was only true of the children who had developed respiratory atopy. Asthma and/or allergic rhinitis, but not atopic dermatitis, posed a significant risk for ROM, while all the three atopic manifestations enhanced the risk for secretory otitis media. Positive skin prick tests with food, but not with inhaled allergens, tended to be associated with ear problems. In conclusion, we found that children with CMA in infancy, even when properly treated, had experienced significantly more ROM, the risk associating with concomitant development of respiratory atopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Asthma / complications
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / complications
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / complications*
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Otitis Media / etiology*
  • Otitis Media / surgery
  • Recurrence
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / complications
  • Risk Factors