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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I check for definite food allergies?

    My 15-month-old son has eczema and had blood tests taken from our doctor. They came back with moderate results for soybean, wheat, milk, egg whites and peanuts. What type of test do I now need to take in order to know which particular food type is causing his eczema to flare up ? Does he need to go to a specialist to have this done? Also, would he need to be tested for other allergies eg dust etc to see if this may be the cause as well ? I am finding it hard to find foods he can have in the meantime.
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  • Emma Warner

    Psychologist

    A Registered Psychologist with over 12 years experience with young people and adults with a focus on Anxiety. Special area of interest is the psychosocial … View Profile

    If your child is having adverse reactions to food then you may want to see a Pediatric Allergist. They will be able to confirm for you what food/s and environmental allergens your child is Allergic to and will be able to start the process to which food replacements you can give your child, and will likely refer you to a Dietitian for further support. You may want to have a look at Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia's website for more information https://www.allergyfacts.org.au/ I hope this is a starting point for you. I am a Psychologist and mother of a child with food allergies, this was the process we took. You can request a referral from your GP for a private Allergist or be waitlisted in the public heath system. My recommendation to you when you go to see the Allergist is be well equipped with information, for example photos of how bad the excema can be, a list of foods or other allergens you already suspect. It is helpful to keep a log or a diary so you can see when flare ups occur and if you suspect this is food or environmental related. Keep food packaging to show listed ingredients. All the best.

  • 3

    Thanks

    Dr Alexander Lozynsky

    Allergy Specialist & Immunologist

    Consultant allergist and immunologist, with particular interest in allergic rhinitis and sinusitis, allergic respiratory disorders, food allergies and sensitivity and allergic skin conditions, including atopic … View Profile

    You do not specify if the test done by your doctor, who I presume is a GP, was a RAST multidisc which screens for a number of different food antigens on one disc or individual tests. The multidisc is the most common way that GPs order RAST or ImmunoCap blood tests, because Medicare only rebates for a RAST of 4 antigens or group of antigens. You list 5 different foods so I suspect it was a multidisc and therefore not very helpful, as your child may be allergic to only one of those foods or to several of them.

    This would explain the dilemma you are experiencing with not knowing exactly which foods he can safely eat. This can adversely affect his nutritional status, thereby compromising his growth and development.

    I would recommend you ask your GP for a referral to an allergist/immunologist, preferably paediatric, in order to assist you with identifying the specific food or foods to which you son is really allergic to and if this is contributing to your son's atopic dermatitis (eczema).  Atopic refers to "allergic" and dermatitis is "inflammation of the skin", which is a good description of this condition.

    You mention testing for other allergies. At this age the only environmental allergen to which he may show an allergy, particularly if you live in a coastal city, especially Sydney, is house dust mite. There are two main types, with the long names of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus or farinae. It is not uncommon for children of your son's age of 15 months, to have evidence of allergy to dust mite by skin tests, which is preferable, as it is easier to do and less painful than a blood test (RAST).

    There is no limitation on the number of antigens that can be tested by skin tests, so all the foods identified by the blood test can be tested individually. 

    It is important to note that atopic dermatitis indicates an atopic predisposition, with about 80% of these children developing symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic conjunctivitis and possibly asthma, especially if there is a family history of these conditions. It is likely that you may have allergies, as boys seem to be more likely affected if the mother suffers from various allergies. There is a genetic predisposition, with about a 30% chance of having a child with allergies if one parent has allergies and 70% if both parents have various allergies. 

    It is also important to remember that house dust mite is a common environmental allergen and can impact on atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis and also asthma. 

    So pretty much an interplay between genetics and the environment.

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