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Oral food challenges safe when performed in doctor's office

Oral food challenges safe when performed in doctor's office
From Reuters - September 15, 2017

(Reuters Health) - Oral food challenges at the doctors office are a safe way to diagnose food allergies, a U.S. study suggests.

Based on records of more than 6,000 food challenge tests done in allergy practices in Houston, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Boston and Indianapolis, researchers found that only 2 percent produced a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Across practices, just 13 percent to 33 percent of patients had any type of allergic reaction.

In oral food challenges, patients consume a very small amount of food by mouth while doctors watch for an allergic reaction.

Parents should know its safe in a clinic with a physician thats skilled in performing oral food challenges, said senior study author Dr. Carla Davis, a pediatric allergist at Texas Childrens Hospital in Houston.

Oral food challenge is the current gold standard for food allergy testing, she told Reuters Health by phone. We dont have another test that very accurately lets us know if a person is going to react to food if they eat it. The food challenge, unfortunately at this time, is the only way to determine if a person has a life-threatening food allergy or not.

Past research has mainly focused on experiences at individual allergy clinics, Davis and her colleagues write in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. To get a broader picture of the safety of oral food challenges across the U.S., they examined records from five practices over a five-year period.

All tests were performed under the guidance of medical professionals. Most of the patients were under age 18.

Just 2 percent of those being tested experienced anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical intervention. About 14 percent had mild or moderate reactions such as hives on the skin and were usually treated with antihistamines.

Davis said that if parents suspect their kids have food allergies, the best place to start is with their local allergist.

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