'Oral Food Challenge' Is Not a Reality Show

Challenge may need to be added to skin, blood tests to accurately diagnose food allergies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Almost 3 million children have a food or digestive allergy in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 5 percent of children and 4 percent of adults in the United States have food allergies.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) has just issued the first clinical guidelines for diagnosing and treating food allergies. Recent research suggests skin and blood tests are not enough alone to make a correct allergy diagnosis. Often, food intolerance is misdiagnosed as a food allergy.

For an accurate diagnosis, it takes a combination of approaches, and in some cases an "oral food challenge" in which patients are exposed to tiny amounts of the suspect food under close medical supervision, Hugh A. Sampson, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center, told the Wall Street Journal.

Common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, milk and eggs. Nut allergies, a common cause of anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause fainting, hives and abdominal cramping), affect about 1.5 million in the U.S. alone.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 7, 2010
Last Updated:
January 17, 2011