The immune system of children is continuously growing strong, until it is able to fully fight off harmful substances. Food allergies in children are very common and are among the leading chronic diagnoses in children. Identifying the triggers for their allergies is very important, that is why it is very important to carry out food allergy testing for children. In 1 study, 4-6% of children have food allergies, 8-10% have asthma and 15-25% have seasonal allergies.
It is important to perform food allergy testing for children to know what the specific allergens might be before being able to start treatment. This includes children that have inflamed or irritated nasal passages, asthma, food allergies, and eczema.
Some tests used to investigate food allergy testing in children include:
● Blood: We can use a blood test, radioallergosorbent (RAST) test, or an immunoCAP to test for a food allergy, when a skin test is difficult to administer or in a case where the child is on medication. Blood tests tend to be less sensitive than skin tests in detecting allergies.
● Skin Tests: Hypersensitivity skin tests - Both immediate and delayed, which are useful for detecting allergies to foods, insect stings, airborne particles, and other substances. Some skin tests that are commonly used include:
● Intradermal Testing: This is more sensitive and is used when a venom or penicillin allergy is suspected and not detected by a percutaneous test.
● Patch Test: This can be used to diagnose allergic contact dermatitis that usually flares up when children are exposed to rubber, fragrances, or certain metals. The patch is left on for about 48 hours after which the allergist checks for reactions at specific timings after removal.
● Elimination diet tests: With the elimination diet test, we may recommend and suggest: the supervision of a weeklong diet that would eliminate or isolate the foods that are likely to cause a reaction.Some common foods that can cause a reaction are milk, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, and eggs.
Some of the disadvantages of the elimination diet test is that the food allergens are often packaged in processed foods and are hard to detect. Allergists also test for certain food allergies in children by administering food challenges in a controlled environment and record their observations.