New NIH guidelines support broader use of blood tests to diagnose food allergy

New guidelines on diagnosis and management of food allergy issued by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases a part of NIH, supports a broader use of blood test to improve current clinical practice. Phadia's ImmunoCAP is recognized for its superior predictive values compared to other systems. It provides precise, quantitative and standardized results and help doctors make an accurate diagnosis.

"Blood tests play an increasingly important role to predict and effectively manage specific food allergies," says Dr.Philippe A. Eigenmann, head of pediatric allergy at the Children's University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland

Food allergy is a growing public health concern which affects millions of people around the world. A recent study in the US estimates that 5 percent of the children under the age of 5 and 4 percent of teens and adults, about 10-12 million people, suffer from food allergy. The major food allergens, hen's egg, cow's milk, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy and shellfish account for 90 percent or more of all serious adverse food reactions in the US. Food allergy can cause severe allergic reactions and even death from food induced anaphylaxis. There is no current treatment other than avoiding the food that causes the allergy and treating the symptoms associated with severe reactions. An early diagnosis is key to better patient management.

"The new Food Allergy Guidelines and these newer diagnostic technologies give today's parents of food allergic children information and options that simplify treatment decisions. Raising children with food allergies remains a challenge but this new knowledge gives us all greater power to control the outcome," says Nancy Sander, President and Founder, Allergy & Asthma Network, Mothers of Asthmatics, USA.

The NIH expert panel recommends that all food allergies should be confirmed and monitored by an appropriate evaluation e. g tests for allergic sensitization such as ImmunoCAP from Phadia. Medical history alone is not sufficient to make a diagnosis of food allergy. Blood tests can help defining the underlying cause of an allergic reaction, confirm or rule out food allergy and thus avoid unnecessary treatment or dietary restrictions. Food avoidance affects quality of life and can place patients at significant risk for nutritional deficiencies and growth deficit, especially critical in children.

A common blood test is easy and reliable. Unlike traditional skin-prick testing it can be done irrespective of a patient's age, skin condition, medication, symptom, disease activity and pregnancy. In addition it may provide more detailed information on the origin of the allergy.

We are very pleased that the superior clinical value of ImmunoCAP in diagnosing and monitoring food allergy is recognized. This confirms our leading position, says Jean Forcione Chief Operating Officer Phadia AB

The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, EAACI, has created a task force that is currently developing guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergies. The model for development is similar to the US Guidelines. Following completion the US and European guidelines will be harmonized.

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence, NICE is developing clinical practice guidelines in children and young people on food allergy will be released in early 2011.




The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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