Latest News in Allergy Testing: False Positives?
Food allergies and allergy testing has gotten a lot of media attention as of late. Several articles have stated that common allergy tests could yield false positive results.
This statement has led others to question the prevalence of food allergies and life threatening food allergies in particular.
Allergy bloggers have responded in a frenzy worried that this media attention will undo what many have worked on for years--to educate and inform. That the every day non allergic person will not take food allergies seriously. (Not that many take it very seriously now.) However, it is a blow to the allergy community.
Regardless of the potential harm it may do to the food allergy community, the question is whether it's true.
Unfortunately, the answer is sort of yes. No one can say for sure whether the studies showing an increase in food allergy diagnosis is due to an actual real increase, increased awareness, or increased testing. What is known is that food allergy testing is not 100% accurate and not all allergists are testing correctly.
The bottom line is that positive allergy testing--without a reaction or history of a reaction to the food being tested--does not mean an individual is allergic. And in fact can mean that the individual gets a false positive diagnosis.
The kicker is that if an individual is predisposed to allergies. Suddenly avoiding a food you are NOT allergic to can potentially cause an allergy.
The lesson going forward is this: discuss what you know and advocate with your allergist. Consider allergy testing only for foods you know you or your child has reacted to. If you can't determine the one food due to a reaction to a meal--consider a food challenge for those foods that come up positive that you've eaten reaction free before.
The allergy world is changing. New information becomes available as technology grows. While is is frustrating for those of us who have children that were diagnosed 5+ years ago, it is exciting for those now who are just starting their food allergy journey. Knowledge is definitely power.