Blood Test Predicts Kids' Food Allergies

Helps decide whether to reintroduce offending items

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FRIDAY, July 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Using a blood test to measure food-specific allergy antibodies can help pediatric allergists determine when to reintroduce children to food they may have been allergic to, a new study says.

The report provides pediatric allergists with guidelines on how to use these allergy antibody levels to determine which children should be given an additional allergy test, called a food oral challenge.

In this test, a child eats small amounts of a food allergen to determine whether the child is actually allergic to that particular food.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center recommend the food oral challenge for milk, egg and peanut be performed on children with at least a 50-50 chance of passing. This recommendation is based on the results of the researcher's investigations into how well IgE antibody levels could predict children's reaction to the oral food challenge.

"These findings make it clear that doing a blood test to measure IgE levels can accurately predict how a patient will fare during a food challenge, and we recommend its routine use in clinical practice to screen children with suspected allergies before a food challenge is performed," study senior author Dr. Robert Wood, a pediatric allergist, said in a prepared statement.

The report appears in the July issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about food allergies.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins University, news release, July 6, 2004

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