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How To Test Child For Food Allergies

Strategies To Make The Foods Less Scary For The Child

A child who has spent years learning to avoid a food may be understandably scared by the thought of being given that particular food. There are many things you can do to help make the test less frightening. Depending on your childs age, the possibilities include:

  • Using your child’s familiar sippy cup from home
  • Using your child’s own dishes and silverware from home
  • Mixing liquids with a safe liquid your child enjoys
  • Feeding your child an allergen-free version of the food at home for a few weeks prior to the test to help them get familiar with the foods look, taste, texture, and consistency
  • Serving nut butters spread on a favorite cracker or piece of bread
  • Serving the food with ketchup, syrup, or another safe and familiar condiment

Many parents or caregivers experience anxiety before or during their childs food challenge. It is important to acknowledge these worries and talk about them with your childs allergist. It is also important not to let your child know about your anxiety or to shift your worries onto your child.

Which Food Intolerance Test Is Best

There are various ways to test for food intolerances, including online home tests, lab-offered food intolerance tests, elimination diets, and alternative testing methods.

Lets take a look at each:

Skin prick testsThese test kits can be used at home, as they provide a sterile needle to prick your skin and obtain a blood sample. You can then post your blood sample back to the lab for testing. There the blood is exposed to a panel of food components, and the amount of IgG binding to each food can highlight suspected food sensitivities.

Blood testsThese cant be carried out at home because they require blood to be drawn by a phlebotomist. They measure serum to detect IgE and IgG levels in the blood. Some labs will also offer full antigen blood testing profiles, which include markers of inflammation such as cytokines, CD3 and IgG4 markers.

Oral food challenges and elimination dietsThis is where youre given a small amount of a suspected food to eat, and then wait to monitor any symptoms. This requires dedication and should be carried out with practitioner support to ensure youre eliminating and reintroducing the right foods at the right time.

Other testsThese include kinesiology or muscle testing, hair analysis and vega testing . These tests are promoted online as a means to diagnose food intolerances, but theres no evidence to support their validity.,

Will My Child Grow Out Of Their Food Allergy

Some mild food allergies can resolve themselves by school age. As a child grows and their digestive system develops, its possible they could grow out of an allergy to cows milk, wheat, soya or eggs, for example. However, if youre thinking of reintroducing trigger foods into your childs diet, its important to ask and follow the advice of a healthcare professional or qualified dietitian first.

If your child has a more severe food allergy, such as nuts or shellfish, theyre unlikely to outgrow this.

Living with an allergy can be challenging. For advice and tips on how to manage this, take a look at our blog on living with a food allergy.

Here at Bupa we understand how important your family is. So with our family health insurance you can rest assured knowing that eligible treatment and support is available to you and your loved ones when you need it.

What Is It Used For

Food allergy testing is used to find out if you or your child has an allergy to a specific food. It may also be used to find out whether you have a true allergy or, instead, a sensitivity to a food.

Food sensitivity, also called food intolerance, is often confused with a food allergy. The two conditions can have similar symptoms, but complications can be very different.

A food allergy is an immune system reaction that can affect organs throughout the body. It can cause dangerous health conditions. Food sensitivity is usually much less serious. If you have a food sensitivity, your body can’t properly digest a certain food, or a food bothers your digestive system. Symptoms of food sensitivity are mostly limited to digestive problems such as abdominal pain, nausea, , and diarrhea.

Common food sensitivities include:

  • Lactose, a type of sugar found in dairy products. It may be confused with a milk allergy.
  • MSG, an additive found in many foods
  • Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and other grains. It is sometimes confused with a wheat allergy. Gluten sensitivity and wheat allergies are also different from celiac disease. In celiac disease, your immune system damages your small intestine when you eat gluten. Some of the digestive symptoms can be similar, but celiac disease is not a food sensitivity or a food allergy.

Introduce New Foods Gradually

What Types of Allergy Test Are Available?

Sure, it’s tempting to give your kid a bite of everything as soon as he is old enough to try out solid foods. But according to WebMD, it’s a good idea to introduce new foods one at a time. This way, if your baby does develop a bad reaction to something, you will know which food is the most likely culprit.

Can People Outgrow Food Allergies

About 80% of people will outgrow a milk, egg, wheat, or soy allergy. These are much more common in childhood. About 20% of people will outgrow a peanut, tree nut, fish, or shellfish allergy. However, this is not something you want to experiment with on your own. Talk to your allergist and they can track your allergy over time.

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Child Has A Food Allergy

If your child has a reaction and you suspect its a food allergy, you should avoid giving them the food you think caused it. They also shouldnt have any similar foods . Then record their symptoms for the next 24 hours and follow up by keeping a food and symptoms diary for at least two weeks. This can help to identify if any of their symptoms are triggered by certain foods. Your GP will be able to review your childs food and symptoms diary in more detail and may decide to arrange further tests.

If at any point your child has a severe reaction, such as finding it hard to breathe, wheezing or their mouth or lips begin to swell, then seek medical attention immediately.

Symptoms Of Childrens Food Allergies And Intolerance


Whilst the symptoms of a food intolerance can be hugely disruptive for kids, the effects of an allergy are much more severe and in extreme cases, can even be life threatening.

If your child is allergic to something in their diet, they are likely to experience the effects within an hour of consuming the problem food, sometimes immediately. You should seek immediate medical help if they present any of the following signs of anaphylaxis:

  • Wheezing or chest tightness
  • Swelling of the tongue and throat
  • Hypotension a sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Dizziness, confusion or loss of consciousness

The following symptoms meanwhile, whilst not necessarily life-threatening, are serious and should be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. These include:

  • A flushed face, hives or a red and itchy rash around the mouth, tongue or eyes
  • Mild swelling, most commonly of the lips, eyes or face
  • Frequent sneezing and watering of the eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting, tummy cramps and diarrhoeA
  • An itchy mouth or throat


Food intolerance in kids is less serious than an allergy but could manifest itself in one of the following disruptive symptoms, which could take as long as 72 hours to appear. This makes it very difficult to identify what the trigger food is. Common symptoms could include:

  • Headaches
  • IBS symptoms, bloating and tummy pain
  • Fatigue and sleep problems
  • Eczema and other skin reactions
  • Constipation

Are There Any Risks To The Test

An oral challenge test can cause a severe allergic reaction. That’s why this test is only given under close supervision by an allergist.

You may get an allergic reaction during an elimination diet. You should talk to your allergist about how to manage potential reactions.

A skin prick test can bother the skin. If your skin is itchy or irritated after the test, your allergist may prescribe medicine to relieve the symptoms. In rare cases, a skin test can cause a severe reaction. So this test must also be done under close supervision by an allergist.

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

Food Allergy Testing For Children

February 19, 2021

A food allergy is, no doubt, an utter nuisance. However, when it affects a vulnerable person in your homesuch as your childyou will likely consider it a threat as well.

Children living with food allergies need special precautions to avoid an allergic reaction, which can cause distressing symptoms, such as nausea; vomiting; swelling of the face, mouth, or throat; and difficulty breathing or swallowing. It is, therefore, important to identify the exact cause of your childs food allergy symptoms, so you can avoid giving your child the food or drink that contains the allergen.

Food allergy testing is an essential component in diagnosing allergies and in determining which specific food your child is allergic to. Depending on the type of food allergy being suspected, your allergist will perform the most appropriate test or a combination thereof and obtain a detailed clinical history of your child to confirm a diagnosis.

Lets talk about the different types of food allergy testing and where to get them in Northeast Illinois.

Understand How And Why To Screen For Food Allergy

Most babies dont need to be screened for food allergy at all, said Dr. David Fleischer, M.D., section head of allergy and immunology at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. recommend that only those who are considered high-risk be screened before trying to eat peanut products, but even this is controversial in the international food allergy community. Australias recent guidelines, for instance, dont recommend pre-emptive screening of these high-risk groups at all.

The problem with screening babies before they have symptoms is that allergy tests can indicate only whether they are producing antibodies against an allergen, but this doesnt mean they have a true food allergy. If a positive test is erroneously used to diagnose a food allergy and parents are told to avoid feeding their child that food, dietary restriction might not only be unnecessary, but could cause an allergy to develop, Dr. Stukus said. That is absolutely heartbreaking because that is now a medical professional absolutely causing harm to somebody else and creating an allergy that did not exist before, he said. If your baby does have any allergy testing, how the results are interpreted is key, and you dont want it to unnecessarily delay introduction of foods.

What Do Results Mean

The meaning of the allergy test results depends on what test you do. If your child has a reaction to the food challenge test or elimination diet test, thats a pretty clear indicator theres an allergy to a food and they should stay away from it.

Blood tests arent as sensitive as skin tests, and can yield both false positives and false negatives.

Whatever allergy testing is done for your child, its important to place those results in the larger picture of the symptoms theyve exhibited and their reactions to specific exposures. Taken together, that will help confirm any specific allergy diagnosis.

Work With Your Pediatrician

Allergy Testing for Children

No one knows your baby’s health like your personal pediatrician. Because many factors may influence your infant’s propensity for food allergies, such as a family history of allergies or even symptoms of eczema, a doctor who has a thorough understanding of your child’s medical history is invaluable, according to US News. Nothing can take the place of an informed medical decision.

How Old Does Your Child Have To Be To Get An Allergy Test

Many parents believe that children must reach a certain age before allergies develop. In actuality, children of any age can have and be tested for allergies according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology .

A simple blood test can be performed at any age , Dr. Wright agrees. When a child has an allergy, it can surface for the first time at any age. Some children stop reacting to certain allergens, such as milk and egg, as they grow, but allergies to foods like nuts tend to remain.

Understand What A Food Allergy Is And Isnt

A food allergy is really a reproducible immunologic response to a food, said Dr. Corrine Keet, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. This commonly means that your immune system overreacts to a food and produces a type of antibody called IgE, which in turn triggers immediate symptoms that include rash, vomiting, breathing problems and sometimes anaphylaxis, said Dr. Keet.

The nine most common foods that cause allergies in children through age 17 from most to least common are peanuts, milk, shellfish, tree nuts, eggs, fish, wheat, soy and sesame. We know the most about prevention of peanut allergy, so thats the focus of current guidelines. Other food allergies may develop in the same way, but much more research is needed.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, if a persons immune system is making antibodies specific to a given food component, it means theyre sensitized to that allergen. Sensitization is just one step on the way to developing an allergy, and it doesnt always progress to one. A person can produce antibodies to a food, yet still be able to safely eat that food without any signs of a reaction; an allergy can only be definitively diagnosed if theres a reaction every time the food is eaten.

Take Care With Peanuts

A serious food allergy can change your entire family’s eating habits, and most parents are aware of the dangers a peanut allergy can present. With that in mind, you may want to take extra-special precautions when giving your little one peanuts or peanut butter for the first time. As noted in Everyday Health, you can speak with your pediatrician about your kid’s risk factors for the allergy, and then introduce him to peanut butter in very small quantities. Hopefully he will be able to safely enjoy PB&J sandwiches in no time.

Where Can I Get A Food Intolerance Test In The Uk

There are many online home test kits and food intolerance labs, and its hard to work out which are reliable.

Individual labs vary in their testing methodologies, and some have poor reproducibility, which means if the same test were conducted twice, different results could be found.

The best food intolerance tests measure your IgG antibodies against specific foods, while also considering your symptoms.

The Healthpath Food IgG Finger Prick Test measures 64 commonly reactive foods. Your results will indicate if a food is problematic, borderline or considered safe/non-reactive. While some tests measure more foods, we find that testing the most common allergenic foods provides the most clinically meaningful data when considered in combination with your symptoms.

When To Get Food Allergy Testing

The only time you should get your child tested for food allergies is when they have shown a reaction to a food. If your child seems to develop hives, stomach pain, itchiness, or eczema after eating a particular food, you should contact your pediatrician, who will most likely suggest testing for an allergy to that food. 

The exception is if your baby has an allergy that is strongly linked to another allergy. For example, most people with walnut allergy have a pecan allergy. A child who has reacted to walnuts may get tested for sensitivity to other tree nuts.

You should not, in general, test for allergies to foods your child is not reacting to or has never eaten. Heres why.

How Can My Child Be Tested For A Food Allergy

Your GP may refer your child to a specialist who can do a simple blood test or a skin-prick test. This is to test for the IgE antibody thats responsible for triggering an allergic reaction.If theres a clear history of reaction to an obvious food trigger, a blood test can be useful to confirm a diagnosis. Unfortunately, this test can be unreliable. Sometimes it will suggest a child has an allergy when they dont, so its only useful if your child has very clear symptoms.

If the diagnosis is unclear, the doctor may arrange for a skin-prick test. During a skin-prick or patch test, small amounts of the suspected allergen will be placed on to your childs skin. Their skin is then pricked with a needle and any reaction is monitored for the next 15 to 20 minutes.

Food Sensitivity Tests: The Pitfalls Of Home Testing Kits

Jul 19, 2018

Food allergies are caused by an allergy antibody known as IgE. If someone has a food allergy, they will have immediate onset and reproducible symptoms every time they eat that food, regardless of what form. For instance, if someone has a milk allergy, they cannot eat cheese, ice cream, or yogurt. Food allergy symptoms can include itching, rash, hives, swelling, difficulty breathing or swallowing, vomiting and, in rare cases, death. Skin prick or blood IgE tests can help with diagnosis.

A food sensitivity, or intolerance, on the other hand, does not involve an immunologic or allergic response. These cause difficulty with digestion and symptoms such as bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. A common example is lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. People with lactose intolerance lack the enzyme to digest the sugar, which passes into the gastrointestinal tract undigested and essentially draws water into the bowels, causing symptoms. People can either avoid lactose or take an enzyme replacement before eating dairy.

There are no validated tests to diagnose food sensitivity. Diagnosis relies on a detailed dietary history, eliminating suspected foods for several weeks to see if symptoms improve, then reintroduction of the food to see if symptoms return. Several studies have shown that people who suspect food sensitivity often identify the wrong food or have another reason for their symptoms.

What Foods Are Commonly Challenged

A 6

Oral food challenges are usually done using the actual food itself, such as:

  • Dairy: milk
  • Heated milk: specific baked recipe that contains milk thoroughly heated
  • Eggs: scrambled egg and/or French toast
  • Baked eggs: specific baked recipe that contains thoroughly heated eggs
  • Grains: cooked grains, baby cereals, baked goods , or flour which is mixed with a safe food, such as applesauce or pudding
  • Peanuts and tree nuts: nut butter, specific nut, flour or nuts ground to a flour consistency and mixed with a safe food
  • Soy: plain or flavored soy milk, tofu
  • Fish: a cooked piece of the actual fish
  • Shellfish: a cooked piece of the shellfish your child is allergic to

What Are The Guidelines On Feeding Children Peanuts At An Early Age

In 2015, a study called LEAP looked at giving children peanut products at an early age. The study found that feeding children peanut products between age 4 and 11 months was beneficial. In patients who ingested peanut products three times per week, the number of peanut allergies decreased from 14% to 2% by age 5.

For parents with a child who has severe eczema or prior egg allergy, consult with your child’s pediatrician and potentially have an allergy test done before introducing peanuts.

Food Allergy Vs Food Intolerance

Its estimated that about 35% of patients and/or parents report a food reactivity or intolerance which they believe is a true food allergy. The child may have nausea or diarrhea or another reaction that looks like it could be allergies, such as a rash around the mouth. If your child has experienced any of these reactions with no other symptoms, it may not be a true food allergy. You should discuss this with your childs pediatrician.

True food allergy can be reproduced when eating a certain food. A child typically doesnt have a reaction the first time they eat a food. Peanuts are an exception to this because, most likely, the child has already been sensitized through their skin or some other way.

When It Comes To Allergies Confusion And Self

Michaela Lucas, a clinical professor at University of Western Australia and immunologist at Perth Children’s Hospital, agrees that “immunology and allergies is a very difficult field to grasp”.

She says many Australians incorrectly self-diagnose their children’s conditions.

“There is an overrepresentation of allergy, meaning many people report an allergy or think they have an allergy, and on further assessment they don’t,” says Dr Lucas, who is also a director at the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy .

Misdiagnosis can be a result of scientifically unproved methods of testing such as cytotoxic food testing, kinesiology, Vega testing, electrodermal testing, pulse testing, reflexology and hair analysis, ASCIA warns.

Parents who rely on online parenting forums or ‘Dr Google’ to make a diagnosis also risk getting it wrong.

One study by YouGov and Liddells found that 22 per cent of Australians report self-diagnosing a food intolerance, sometimes by consulting Dr Google and more than one-third of those people have never consulted a healthcare professional to diagnose or manage their symptoms.

Potential Food Allergens In School Crafts And Activities

Did you know some craft supplies and school activities can have hidden food allergens? Use our list to know what allergens to watch for. You can also use the list to teach your child to identify possible allergens in items like play dough. Or share your list with your child’s teacher as you work together to make their classroom safe.

Make rice or cornstarch play dough free from the top 8 food allergens.

Know The Signs Of A Possible Allergic Reaction

A severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, can be life-threatening. These reactions typically affect more than one part of the body and in rare cases can cause a drop in blood pressure. The good news is that research suggests that infants seem to have milder anaphylaxis reactions to food than older kids. Hives and vomiting are the most common symptoms in babies younger than 1, whereas older children are more likely to have respiratory symptoms, like wheezing and difficulty breathing. However, these symptoms can occur at any age and always warrant immediate medical attention.

A mild reaction, like a rash or even a couple of hives, isnt an emergency, but youll still want to let your pediatrician know and follow up with an allergist to figure out whether your child is experiencing an allergy or something else, Dr. Gupta recommended. Rashes can be caused by contact irritation from acidic foods like strawberries or tomatoes, and hives and vomiting can both be caused by infections, for example.

Taking pictures of skin changes and noting the types of foods eaten and the timeline of symptoms can give your allergist clues as to whats causing the reaction. The doctor might also want to do blood or skin tests, and maybe a food challenge in-office, before making a diagnosis.

Are Food Allergy And Food Intolerance The Same

Although food allergy and food intolerance manifest similar symptoms, they are different conditions. Food allergy is an immune system-related condition characterized by an allergic reaction to a food. On the other hand, food intolerance is a digestive disorder characterized by the inability to digest certain foods .

Food allergy affects numerous organs in the body and causes mild or moderate to severe symptoms, such as anaphylaxis. In contrast, food intolerance primarily causes gastrointestinal symptoms, and the symptoms are seldom severe .

Introduce Foods At Home

If your baby does experience an allergic reaction, you probably don’t want to deal with it at a restaurant. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s smart to introduce your baby to new foods at home, ideally when you have an oral antihistamine on hand. This may help you avoid putting unnecessary stress on you, your baby, and an unsuspecting waitstaff.


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