-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Too few American doctors
use oral food challenges to diagnose food allergies even though
this type of test is considered the gold standard, according to a
In an oral food challenge, a patient consumes foods to see if it
causes an allergic reaction. This is done under close medical
Researchers surveyed about 40,000 children and identified 3,339
cases of food allergy. However, only 61.5 percent of the cases were
formally diagnosed by a doctor and only about 15 percent of those
children underwent an oral food challenge.
Children with severe symptoms such as anaphylaxis
(life-threatening allergic reaction), wheezing, breathing
difficulties and low blood pressure were most likely to be
diagnosed by a doctor and most likely to undergo an oral food
The findings that many children with food allergy are not
diagnosed by a doctor and not given a food challenge suggest that
food allergy may be underdiagnosed in the United States, the
The study was scheduled to be presented at this week's annual
meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
"Oral food challenge provides a definitive diagnosis which is critical to providing proper disease management and prevents unnecessary avoidance of certain foods," Dr. Ruchi Gupta of Children's Memorial Hospital, in Chicago, said in an ACAAI news release. "Physicians may not be conducting the test due to the length of time it takes, three to six hours, and the low reimbursement for a food challenge."
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data
and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in
a peer-reviewed journal.
In suspected cases of food allergy, patients should be referred
to an allergist, according to the ACAAI.
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
has more about
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