Physician Diagnosis in Pediatric Food Allergy

Using data from our national food allergy prevalence survey, we found that 30% of children with food allergy never received a formal physician diagnosis, suggesting that food allergy is under-diagnosed. In this study, lower income and minority households were more likely to have a child with an undiagnosed food allergy. True food allergy that goes undiagnosed or diagnosed food allergy that is not appropriately managed put children at increased risk for life-threatening reactions. Although simply avoiding the food (without consulting a doctor) may seem logical to a parent, it can be detrimental for the child. The absence of a doctor diagnosis can result in poor understanding of the risks of food allergy, including the fact that life-threatening reactions may occur regardless of the severity of previous reactions. In addition, without a formal diagnosis, the child may not have access to life-saving medications (ie, injectable epinephrine.) Remember that visible skin symptoms can be absent in allergic reactions. Skin symptoms (i.e. hives and swelling) were not present in more than half of severe reactions in this study. The absence of physically visible symptoms may prevent recognition of a severe reaction, putting a child at increased risk for life-threatening outcomes. Thus, involving a physician in the management of food allergy is critical.  CLICK HERE for more information.