Typically, food allergies are confirmed by either actual reaction, skin prick testing, or IgE blood testing. By far the most reliable predictor of reaction severity is an actual reaction, but as anyone with an allergy can tell you, that's not a risk we want to take. There are countless peanut allergies that are determined via skin prick alone (like my son's), and you know what? They're not always accurate. Since my son has never actually ingested peanuts (that we're aware of), we rely on that positive skin prick test, even though the reality is that he may not actually be allergic. His IgE test was negative, but his allergist feels that if there is a hive at all when skin testing is done, that he does not qualify for an oral food challenge. Oral food challenges are exactly as they sound - patients ingest small (and increasing) amounts of an allergen to see if they react. But they obviously come with a risk of severe reaction, and they're beyond stressful for patients and families.
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That's why the latest news from the allergy research world has our community cheering. New blood testing could make those terrifying oral food challenges (OFCs) obsolete! With just a simple blood draw, the new basophil activation test (BAT) can predict reaction severity quickly. The newly published study from The Mindich Child Health and Development Institute and the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute notes that currently, BAT testing is currently only approved for research purposes but according to Dr. Ying Song, one of the study's authors, "...BAT testing will provide accurate information in a safer manner", so I'm absolutely flipping out over this great news!
Life as an allergy parent is so much more than you may realize.
Back in the summer, another similar study had similar results, so it seems that this BAT testing has great potential. I can't imagine life without allergy stress anymore, and the idea of eliminating even a little of the worry is amazing. This would change everything!