For those of us who have walked with their children through multiple skin prick tests, blood tests, and some – unlike us – who have undergone an oral food challenge, the latest news in allergy testing is huge.
The accuracy of the current blood testing, radioallergosorbent test (RAST), is regularly questioned by the medical community. Skin prick tests (SPT) are at minimum highly uncomfortable and time consuming. And the “gold standard” of oral food challenges can lead to an anaphylactic reaction.
So, we in the allergy community are dependent on unreliable data that leads to oral food challenges – when the RAST and SPT return negative – and the person could still end up with a needle in the thigh.
The newest blood test being researched not only aims to make the results highly reliable, but will also offer something that only an oral food challenge can give us right now: an idea of exactly how allergic we are to the food in question.
Side note: I can’t tell you how many times we’ve wondered what would really happen if our son accidentally ingested any one of his multiple allergens. As my fellow allergy parents know, the question isn’t really if it happens, but when. All of the recent food recalls are a reminder to us all that even with full vigilance and working toward complete avoidance, sometimes we just can’t know if our food is safe.
Back to this new blood test; as I think through the implications for our community, I am amazed.
For instance, there would be no further need to put anyone through the risky and anxiety-inducing oral food challenges. This might be bad news for business at Seattle Children’s, where they currently operate a food allergy challenge clinic. But, I am pretty sure it is good news to anyone else that might otherwise have to consider doing a food challenge to determine a level of allergy severity.
No more skin prick tests? No more unreliable RAST results? Knowing how allergic you are with one blood draw? It almost seems to good to be true.
But I don’t think it is. As I’ve shared before, there are many bright minds working around the clock to bring relief to the food allergy community, and I believe help is on the way with this new food allergy diagnosis.
If you’d like to learn more about the study, visit the Chinese Medicine for Food Allergies website.