Moms and dads of kids with food allergies think they're allergic too

October 12, 2016, American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

When testing for food allergies, allergists often ask about family history. If your parents have food allergies, the chances are higher that you too will have them. Problem is, not everyone who reports a food allergy actually has one.

A study in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) reports only 28 percent of parents of kids with food allergies tested positive to the foods to which they reported allergies. A sensitivity to a food can be indicated in a skin prick test or a blood test, but does not always show a true allergy unless there has been a previous reaction to the food.

"Parents of kids with food allergies had a higher rate of positive blood and skin tests to foods than the general population," said allergist Melanie Makhija, MD, MSc and co-lead author. "But of the 2,477 parents, only 28 percent of those who self-reported a actually tested positive. 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, are not always reliable; there are a lot of false positives."

Parents of children with food allergies were recruited from local hospital clinics and community settings. To be eligible, families had to have a child with a food allergy. In response to the questionnaire, 13.7 percent of parents reported having a food allergy. Of that group, only 28 percent tested positive to the food to which they reported being allergic.

"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 This points to the importance of proper testing for any kind of allergy, but particularly food allergies. Interestingly, we also found that of the who reported no food allergy, 14 percent had positive tests to peanut and sesame, for example."

According to ACAAI, skin tests may reveal sensitization, but being sensitized to an allergen doesn't mean you are allergic. Oral food challenges remain the gold standard for allergy testing and are considered very accurate for diagnosing allergies. An allergy blood test alone is not as accurate. Food allergy tests aren't able to predict future risk for someone who has never eaten the food before.

Allergists are specially trained to administer allergy testing and diagnose the results. They can then tailor a plan specific to your allergies. To find an allergist near you, use the ACAAI allergist locator.

Explore further: Study shows siblings of kids with food allergies aren't necessarily also allergic

Related Stories

Study shows siblings of kids with food allergies aren't necessarily also allergic

November 5, 2015
If one child in a family has a food allergy, the reasoning sometimes goes, chances are good that siblings might also have food allergies. Not necessarily, according to new research which shows that 53 percent of siblings ...

Six keys to a safe, allergy-free Halloween

October 10, 2016
(HealthDay)—Halloween can be really scary for kids with asthma and allergies—and for their parents—unless they take precautions, an allergist advises.

Food allergies linked to raised risk of asthma, hay fever

September 14, 2016
(HealthDay)—Children with food allergies are at increased risk for asthma and hay fever, and the risk rises with the number of food allergies, new research shows.

Diagnosing and managing food allergies: A guide for physicians

September 6, 2016
A new review aims to help physicians diagnose and manage food allergies in children and adults. The article, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) looks at recent evidence from guidelines, randomized controlled ...

Halloween can be a fright for kids with food allergies

October 27, 2015
(HealthDay)—Parents of youngsters with food allergies may feel Halloween is more trick than treat, but the holiday's risks can be reduced with some simple precautions, an expert says.

You can have a food allergy, and eat it too

November 8, 2013
Have food allergies? If you answered yes, you know the best way to prevent a severe allergic reaction is to totally avoid the offending food. But according to a presentation at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American ...

Recommended for you

Researchers identify source of molecule linked to nasal polyps, asthma attacks

May 23, 2018
A new discovery about how the immune system responds to common sinus infections and asthma could explain why patients develop these issues in the first place and ultimately may lead to improved targeted therapies. Researchers ...

Study demonstrates new treatment for severe asthma

May 22, 2018
Researchers from McMaster University and the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, together with colleagues at other partnering institutions, have developed a new method to treat ...

Eczema drug effective against severe asthma

May 21, 2018
Two new studies of patients with difficult-to-control asthma show that the eczema drug dupilumab alleviates asthma symptoms and improves patients' ability to breathe better than standard therapies. Dupilumab, an injectable ...

Neuron guidance factor found to play a key role in immune cell function

May 21, 2018
Macrophages are white blood cells involved in a variety of biological functions, from destroying infectious pathogens to repairing damaged tissue. To carry out their different roles, macrophages must first be activated and ...

Immune cells hold promise in slowing down ALS

May 21, 2018
Recent research from Houston Methodist Hospital showed that a new immunotherapy was safe for patients with ALS and also revealed surprising results that could bring hope to patients who have this relentlessly progressive ...

First clues to the causes of multiple sclerosis

May 16, 2018
Multiple sclerosis, which affects one in 1,000 people, is frequently characterised by relapses associated with variable functional impairments including among others vision problems, impairment of locomotor functions or difficulties ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.