New Study Suggests Peanut Allergies May Be Less Common Than Tests Show

According to a new study done by UK researchers, the results show that many children who test positive to peanut sensitivity may not actually have full blown allergies. Among 79 8-year-olds who were deemed peanut-sensitive by standard allergy testing, only 7 turned out to have true allergies when they underwent more-extensive testing that is less commonly used in routine practice.

That’s very significant when you think about what you do and the fear instilled when your child is diagnosed with a peanut allergy, and there may be a very good chance he isn’t really allergic.

Food allergy tests, including peanut, are diagnosed usually through a blood or skin test. However, these tests have limitations as they gauge “sensitivity,” not true allergy responses, which is where the danger lies. Many children are tested if they have family history of allergies or personal allergies with other sources.

In this study, the 79 children who were deemed “peanut sensitive” after skin and blood tests underwent food challenge tests, where the patient actually eats the food and is monitored for a reaction. Only 7 of these 79 showed symptoms during the food challenge.

Of course, most of us don’t want our children taking food challenge tests if we fear there could be a dangerous reaction. These tests are not routinely used, plus they are time consuming and expensive as well as risky.

The researchers, led by Dr. Adnan Custovic did find that a newer type of blood test may prove to more effective than the currently often used IgE tests. “The technique, called component-resolved diagnostics (CRD), involves exposing blood samples to specific, purified peanut proteins and measuring the IgE antibody response. This is different from traditional IgE blood tests, which use “crude” peanut extracts that contain numerous allergenic and non-allergenic molecules, Custovic explained. According to the researchers, CRD testing showed that the IgE response to a particular peanut protein, called Ara H 2, may prove useful in separating children with true allergies from those with a peanut sensitivity.”

The research on food allergies continues to be not only interesting, but exciting as we see more and better ways of testing which can show more true results. It’s hard to stick by a peanut (or any food for that matter) avoidance diet without worry. Maybe some of us who have lived this way can loosen up a little.

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