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

A synthetic approach to helping the immune system thwart infections

February 22, 2018
Yale researchers have developed a set of synthetic molecules that may help boost the strength of a key, virus-fighting protein.

Scientists find molecular link between Vitamin A derivative and mouse intestinal health

February 22, 2018
New research shows that all-trans-retinoic acid (atRA), the active form of vitamin A, regulates immune system responses in the mouse intestine by controlling expression of the protein HIC1 in cells known as innate lymphoid ...

Animal study shows how to retrain the immune system to ease food allergies

February 21, 2018
Treating food allergies might be a simple matter of teaching the immune system a new trick, researchers at Duke Health have found.

Preventive treatment for peanut allergies succeeds in study

February 20, 2018
The first treatment to help prevent serious allergic reactions to peanuts may be on the way. A company said Tuesday that its daily capsules of peanut powder helped children build tolerance in a major study.

'Icebreaker' protein opens genome for T cell development, researchers find

February 20, 2018
Almost all cells in the human body have identical DNA sequences, yet there are 200-plus cell types with different sizes, shapes, and chemical compositions. Determining what parts of the genome are read to make protein and ...

Infection site affects how a virus spreads through the body

February 20, 2018
A person is more likely to get infected by HIV through anal intercourse than vaginal, but no one knows quite why. A new study by scientists at the Gladstone Institutes shows that infection sites could affect the immune system's ...

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.