Now, continuing on the topic of food allergies, which I really find to be quite interesting and at the same time confusing. (If that is the case for doctors, no wonder parents are also confused!).
We do know that the statistics say that about 1 in 20 children and about 1 in 25 adults have a food allergy. While not all food allergies cause life threatening anaphylaxis, and many children may outgrow their food allergies over time, if you suspect an allergy you need to avoid the food until further testing is complete.
So, I think that the most important and the only definitive test that proves whether you have a food allergy is an oral food challenge. But having this test should be at the discretion of a good pediatric allergist who has the knowledge and experience dealing with food allergies and is comfortable performing food challenges. You hate to label a child food ALLERGIC when they are really only food intolerant......big difference for a child’s lifestyle for sure.
I remember one mother deciding she wasn’t quite sure about her child’s history so she called to say that she wanted to try peanut butter again before seeing the allergist......her medical history and blood tests were both fairly indicative of an allergy and I re-iterated......NOT AT HOME, even with an epi pen on hand!!!! Think I got the point across, even though her son really wanted a peanut butter sandwich. Just say NO!
Lastly, for any child with a suspected food allergy, I give them a prescription for an epi pen ( at least 2) with detailed instructions on how and when to use it while they are awaiting further work up from the resident pedi food allergy “specialists” in our city. I also give them the website for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxsis Network (FAAN at www.foodallergy.org) which is a fabulous resource for both parents and professionals as we try to figure out why we continue to see more food allergies among children.
The good news is that some pediatric allergists are starting to de-sensitize children to peanuts and eggs and milk......more to come on that topic as well. Really cool and exciting science!