Last Updated on October 12, 2016 at 1:23 PM
Health In Focus
  • One of the forms of allergy is food allergy.
  • Family history is often present in cases of childhood allergy.
  • Many parents of children with food allergy report that they too suffer from food allergy.
  • Only 28 percent of parents who reported food allergy actually tested positive.

Many moms and dads of kids with food allergy think they may have food allergy too. However, only 28 percent of such parents actually tested positive for allergy, indicates a recent study undertaken by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

Details of the Study

Parents of kids with food allergies were enlisted from local hospitals and community settings. In order for the parents to participate, families required to have a child with known food allergy. While replying to the questionnaire, 13.7 percent of parents stated to be suffering from a food allergy. However, amongst that group, only 28 percent actually tested positive to the food they reported being allergic to.
Parents of Kids With Food Allergies Feel They Might be Allergic Too

"Previous studies have focused on the general adult population," said allergist Rachel Robison, MD, study co-lead author. "While we found positive test results were more common in parents of kids with food allergies, the actual levels in the blood for the foods were quite low. Low positives in allergy testing are more likely to be false positives. This points to the importance of proper testing for any kind of allergy, but particularly food allergies. Interestingly, we also found that of the parents who reported no food allergy, 14 percent had positive tests to peanut and sesame, for example."

Possible Reasons for The Findings

As pointed out earlier, only 28 percent of the parents who self-reported allergy actually tested positive. According to one of the study authors, "This tells us that either people haven't been tested and are assuming an allergy from a previous reaction to a food, or they haven't been tested properly and may not truly have an allergy. Allergy testing, including blood and skin prick testing, is not always reliable; there are a lot of false positives."

How to Overcome False Positives in Allergy Testing

According to ACAAI, skin tests only detect sensitization. However, being sensitized to a particular protein doesn't indicate one is actually allergic. Also a blood test alone for allergy may not prove to be accurate. Blood and skin testing cannot accurately predict food allergy in one who has never ingested that food earlier.

Only oral food challenges are the gold standard for allergy testing and are deemed most accurate for the diagnosis of food allergy.

It is preferable to consult allergy specialists, who are experienced and professionally trained to administer allergic tests and to diagnose allergies.

About Food Allergy in Children

Childhood allergies are becoming increasingly common worldwide. Almost one in 12 children is diagnosed with a food allergy in the UK.

Allergy is a condition, where the immune system reacts and mounts an immune response to seemingly harmless food proteins. The reaction involves the release of chemicals such as histamine, responsible for many of the features of allergy.

Most forms of food allergy begin in infancy and early childhood. Common allergens include proteins in milk, egg, nuts, soy, wheat and shellfish. Some allergies are outgrown in childhood, whilst others may continue into adulthood.

The symptoms begin within a few minutes or within a couple of hours of consuming the food and can vary from mild to severe. They include skin, respiratory and gut symptoms such as
  • Swelling of the lips and throat, eyes and face
  • Itchy rash on lips, tongue
  • Sneezing, runny nose and watering of eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps and diarrhea
In a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, one may have
  • Severe tightness of chest and wheezing
  • Laryngeal edema obstructing the airways
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Circulatory collapse, hypotension, and shock
Unless prompt treatment and resuscitative measures are instituted, it may be lethal.

Living With Food Allergy

Persons suffering from a food allergy need to follow certain measures to avoid or reduce allergic reactions. These include
  • Avoiding the offending food
  • Reading food labels carefully to know the ingredients
  • Informing close friends and relatives about the food allergy
  • Keeping the school authorities in the loop in case of childhood allergies
  • Carrying an auto-injector loaded with adrenaline at all times to be ready for any emergency.
With above precautions in place, and proper food choices, food allergy can be kept down to manageable levels.

References :
  1. Food Allergy in Babies and Children - (
Source: Medindia

Most Popular on Medindia