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Food-allergy fears drive overly restrictive diets
Date:11/4/2010

ting are suggestive but not definitive. Low test values suggest that a child's immune system is sensitized to the food, but not necessarily to the extent that it will cause an allergic reaction. Higher values suggest an increasingly likelihood of true food allergy. None of the tests are 100 percent accurate, however, in predicting clinical food allergy on their own.

National Jewish Health physicians use blood tests as one piece of evidence in their comprehensive evaluation of food allergy. They also carefully evaluate a patient's history, including any previous reactions to food, the type of reaction, the patient's age, and the result of skin testing for food allergy. They generally perform an oral food challenge when the evidence is mixed and they want a definitive answer to the food allergy question.

Children in the study were avoiding 177 different foods based primarily on previous blood test results. In many cases, especially those with high test results for egg, milk, shellfish, peanut and tree nut, National Jewish Health elected not to perform oral food challenges. They did perform oral food challenges for 71 foods or about 40 percent of the cases where the clinical allergy was equivocal and it was important to determine whether or not the patient had food allergy. In 86 percent of those cases, the child passed the food challenge and the food was restored to the child's diet. Overall, 66 of the 177 foods avoided because of blood tests were restored to children's diets. For the entire study, 325 foods were restored to the diets of 125 children.

"When you are able to restore foods such as dairy products, egg, peanut, wheat, and vegetables to a child's diet, it improves their nutrition, reduces the need for expensive substitute foods and makes meal time easier for families," said Donald Leung, MD, PhD, senior author and Edelstein Chair of Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology at National Jewish Health.

The problem can be especially acut
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Contact: William Allstetter
allstetterw@njhealth.org
303-398-1002
National Jewish Health
Source:Eurekalert

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