A study has found that the parents of children with diagnosed food allergies often misdiagnose themselves as having food allergies as well. The study learned that many of these parents present themselves as having an allergy when speaking with an allergist about their child’s potential allergy.
The reality, according to the study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, is that only about 28 percent of parents of kids with food allergies tested positive for allergies for the foods to which they reported having an allergy. Many of these misconceptions on the parents’ part is due to a misunderstanding of the efficacy of a skin prick test for diagnosing actual allergy versus just sensitivity.
Parents with children with food allergies often have a higher sensitivity, but not always an allergy.
Allergist Melanie Makhija, MD, MSc, and co-author of the study, said “..of the 2,477 parents, only 28 percent of those who self-reported a food allergy actually tested positive.” This means that either these parents haven’t been tested or are assuming an allergy from a previous food reaction, she continues. She points out the number of false positives often found in simple skin prick and blood allergy tests.
A good assessment of a blood allergy test will include the levels of allergen reaction, with lower positives likely being inconclusive rather than indicative. “This points to the importance of proper testing for any kind of allergy, but particularly food allergies. Interestingly, we also found that of the parents who reported no food allergy, 14 percent had positive tests to peanut and sesame, for example,” study co-author and allergist Rachel Robison, MD stated.
The most accurate food allergy testing method remains oral challenges