Food allergy is the most common reason for a visit to our allergy clinic. Food allergy is becoming more common in children and an increasing public health issue.
What is a food challenge?
Food challenges are procedures done to confirm if a food allergy exists. The clinical condition and age of your child and the use of very specific diagnostic tests determine if a food challenge should be done. A food challenge can help determine if a food allergy has been outgrown and can determine the relevance and importance of allergy test results.
Our allergists have an extensive experience with milk, egg, soy and wheat food challenges. Peanut, which was once thought to be a life-long food allergy, has been shown by food challenges to be tolerated in a growing number of children.
Why are food challenges important?
The increase in the incidence of food allergy may be due to the increase in the use of readily available food allergy diagnostic tests. There is a wide array of tests available for food allergy. Unfortunately, these tests may provide information that is not relevant to your child, and recommendations based on these test results can lead to significant changes in the quality of life for your child and your family.
Who can undergo a food challenge?
We see children with a mixture of issues with food allergy. The types of reactions that would benefit from a food challenge include:
- Anaphylaxis (a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction)
- Angioedema (deep skin swelling)
- Atopic dermatitis (skin irritation)
- Gastrointestinal problems
Many children we see have had a panel of allergy tests run for a particular problem. The panel may have returned with a positive response to a food. This food may have been a major part of the child's diet or one that they were never exposed to. Concerned families seek guidance from us in these situations. Our evaluation focuses on finding a relevant history and supporting the clinical findings with selected tests and food challenges.
Where is a food challenge administered?
We perform food challenges in the allergy clinics at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health (at the Riley Outpatient Center and at IU Health North). Our IU Health North allergy clinics have recently expanded, which allows us to perform eight food challenges per week. This offers a safe, controlled and clinical environment for your child and family.