According to recent research reported by most mothers of kids with food allergies who themselves claim to have food allergies in fact do not. In fact, of the mothers who claimed that they had food allergies, just over 20% had been diagnosed by a physician and had elevated levels of IgE, consistent with a food allergy.
Lead researcher Dr. Melanie M. Makhija of Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago conducted the survey, involving 1,096 mothers whose children had food allergies. 221 of the mothers involved in the study said they also had food allergies themselves. However, only 117 said that the allergy had been confirmed by a physician, said Makhija.
When tested, even fewer of the women had levels of IgE that were above the cutoff typically used to diagnose a true food allergy. However, Makhija noted that the cutoffs may not be accurate for diagnosing food allergies in adults, as they were determined based on pediatric data for diagnosing food allergies in children.
Women reporting a peanut allergy were 44% likely to have it confirmed by a physician diagnosis and serum IgE test. However, just a third of the moms claiming a soy allergy had the IgE levels and physician diagnosis to confirm it, and fewer than 20% of the reports of other food allergies were supported by a doctor's diagnosis or IgE testing.
Makjiha and colleagues hypothesized that parents whose kids have food allergies may be more alert to potential allergy symptoms in themselves.