Many studies of otitis media with effusion (OME) have been published, most of them dealing with risk factors. The literature correlates this condition with various patient characteristics and socio-economic factors, but none of these have been identified as the sole causative factor. A review of the literature suggests that otitis media with effusion is a response to pathogenic bacteria and thus a normal protective reaction of the body. Therefore, the decision on whether or not treatment is indicated should take the natural course of that response into account. In light of the literature reviewed here, we conclude that there is usually no need to treat middle ear effusion in young children.