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The 8 most common food allergies in children, and how to test for them

Posted on September 16, 2016 at 4:35 PM

The most common food allergies in children are:

Dairy (cow’s milk)



Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, etc.)






Children tend to outgrow dairy, egg, and soy allergies in the first few years of life, and do not tend to outgrow fish, shellfish, peanut, and tree nut allergies.


Reasons to suspect your child has a food allergy include:

Eczema (dry, itchy skin)

Hives (itchy red bumps that are usually larger than 1/4” in diameter, and seem to move and may spread over time)


Asthma (wheezing, coughing, and/or shortness of breath)

Turning pale or fainting


If your child has a food allergy, one or more of these symptoms will occur every time they eat that certain food. If your child has these symptoms, a food diary can help you identify the likely culprit. Write down everything that they eat for several days, along with their symptoms, and look for correlations. If your child has a severe reaction, STOP them from eating anything that they ate that day, go to the hospital, and then make an appointment to see an allergist.


An allergist or a pediatrician can test your child for food allergies. There are two main tests: the skin prick test and the blood test.


The skin prick test involves a rough plastic plate that the doctor puts drops of diluted food allergens onto, then presses onto your child’s skin. The plastic gently pricks the skin; it is not very painful, it just feels like someone pressing velcro against your skin. The allergen is introduced into the skin, and if your child is allergic to that food, a small bump like a mosquito bite will appear within 30 minutes. The doctor will measure the size of your child’s bumps on the skin to tell you how allergic they are to certain foods. This test can be pretty uncomfortable, because those little bumps itch just like mosquito bites, and sometimes your child will have a reaction to many of the allergens. It also requires you to stay at the doctor’s office for at least half an hour.


The blood test for food allergies looks for antibodies to certain foods. The good thing about the blood test is that it is fast (just one blood draw) and your doctor can test for many kinds of allergens at the same time. The bad news is that the blood test is not completely accurate, because your child has to eat enough of that food to cause antibodies to be formed.


Both types of allergy tests can be affected by allergy medications, so your child must avoid antihistamines (Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, etc.) for a week before these test are done. They are also affected by steroid medications (such as prednisone), and these must be avoided for even longer.


Doctor At Your Door does not provide allergy testing at this time, but if you would like a referral to an allergist you can call us at 720-418-1705.

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