Food Allergies: How Do You Know if Your Child Is "Really" Allergic?

Kim Conte

Does your child have an allergy to milk, eggs, wheat, diary, soy, peanuts, or something else? If so, you know how unsettling food allergies can be for parents. Adding to the confusion is research suggesting that blood and skin tests might not be enough to determine if a child truly has a food allergy...

Allergy testing typically involves a blood or skin-prick test, which measures the level of antibodies a body makes to a particular food: If antibodies are made to a particular food, it's usually thought that a child will have an allergic symptom or reaction when they encounter that food in real life.

But now medical experts think there is a gap between antibodies and actual allergies: For example, one study showed that 79 children tested positive for peanut antibodies, when actually, 66 of them could eat peanuts safely.

In other words, some children who are diagnosed with food allergies because of a blood or skin-prick test, may actually be able to eat these foods safely.

The only way to know for sure? Some doctors recommend a food challenge test in a doctor's office or hospital, even though these types of tests can be expensive and downright terrifying for parents.

Has your child ever had a food challenge test? Was it scary? What was your experience with it?

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