September 21, 2023

Allergy Misdiagnosis and Malnutrition: Happening More Often

by admin in Food Allergies0 Comments

Some middle-class children in England are suffering from malnutrition after being diagnosed as food allergic by their parents and put on restrictive diets.

No doubt, the parents are well-meaning and wanted to keep their children safe. Unfortunately, their actions make it more difficult for those with food allergies to have their struggles taken seriously.

There seems to be confusion in peoples’ minds about intolerances, sensitivities, allergies, and how they are diagnosed. Mix that confusion with fear stirred by headlines about allergy epidemics, allergies increasing in middle and upper class families, the possibility of anaphylaxis, and you get concerned parents going overboard with food restriction.

Reliance On Unreliable Tests

To assuage their concerns some parents may be putting faith in a variety of unreliable, unscientific allergy tests available online.

“I commonly see children who have been put on unnecessarily restricted diets because their parents assume, in good faith, that they have allergies to multiple foods on the basis of “allergy tests” which have no scientific basis,” said pediatric allergist Paul Seddon, Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton, England.

Online allergy tests available include:

  • Hair analysis
  • IgG blood tests
  • Kinesiology
  • Electrodermal (Vega) tests
  • Pulse tests
  • Leucocytotoxic or Cytotoxic tests

Reliance on these tests may help explain a Portsmouth University study of involving 969 children. Researchers found 34 percent of the kids’ parents reported children with food allergies, but only 5 percent of the children actually had one.

Not even doctor performed blood, and skin prick tests can provide an allergy diagnosis. These tests may indicate a food sensitivity, but sensitivity does not indicate an allergy. The only definitive test for a food allergy remains a medically supervised oral challenge—eating small amounts of the suspected food to see whether an immune system reaction occurs.

It Happens In The U.S. Too

Though the current headlines about allergy related malnutrition are across the Atlantic, it is no surprise the same mistakes are made here—there are documented cases of malnutrition resulting from misdiagnosed food allergy in the U.S.

If you already understand how food allergy is accurately diagnosed, spread the word to family and friends. If you are new to food allergies, know that easy, reliable tests for food allergies are being researched, but none are yet available.

Unless a child or adult has an immune system reaction (e.g., difficulty breathing, hives, tissue swelling) after ingesting a particular food, an allergy does not exist. A doctor or allergist can determine whether a person’s history and symptoms indicate an allergy, and will prescribe a food challenge – if necessary – to make an accurate diagnosis.

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