Research shows that primary care physicians often use the wrong test to diagnose food allergies in children. This may be leading to overdiagnosis and other harmful effects.

Blood tests involving food allergy panels are not conclusive, researchers and allergists say, and the misdiagnosis rate for doctors utilizing the tests (often covered by insurance) is high. The panels, allergsits warn, should be used as a starting point, not a diagnostic tool.

Choosing Wisely is starting a campaign against the tests.

A public health campaign called Choosing Wisely is working to raise awareness of the misuse of food allergy panels as a diagnostic tool. They say that parents and physicians should be aware that the panels are nothing more than a starting point and only sensitization tests for individual allergens can conclusively diagnose a food allergy.

The campaign is based on research from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio which looked at panel test results and outcomes. Not only were the tests less likely to find a true allergy, but they were about twice as expensive as a more conclusive test from an allergist.

The research culminated in a publication in Pediatrics outlining the misdiagnosis problems.

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