• epilepsy;
  • allergy;
  • food allergy;
  • prick test;
  • IgE

Objectives – The possibility that certain foods or allergens may induce convulsions has already been reported in the literature. None of the relevant studies has, however, shown a close correlation between allergy and epilepsy, most reports being anecdotal and open to various causal hypotheses. The case–control study reported here was undertaken to test the hypothesis that epilepsy is linked to allergy. Material and methods– Seventy-two epileptic children and a group of 202 controls in the same age bracket were investigated for allergy together with their immediate families. Results– The study revealed significantly higher rates of eczema in the mothers and rhinitis in the siblings of the patients studied as well as generally higher incidence of allergic pathologies in both of these groups with respect to the relevant controls. A significantly higher incidence of allergy to cow's milk and asthma was also documented in the epileptic children with respect to the control group. Prick tests gave a significantly higher rate of positive results for cow's milk proteins in the cases examined with respect to the controls. The total serum IgE of a random sample of cases and controls showed no difference in mean values. Conclusion– The study appears to bear out the hypothesis of a higher incidence of allergy in the children with epilepsy and their immediate families than in the controls and their families.