There are instances in which children should undergo allergy testing just like adults. This is due to the fact that most allergy medications are approved for use among infants starting at 6 months old.
Common types of allergy testing
Generally, children as young as 1 month old can safely undergo allergy skin testing.
A blood test is considered less sensitive than a skin test but has an advantage in certain situations. This type of testing is ideal for children 2 years old or younger since they have less skin reactivity to skin testing. In addition, the test is also useful in assessing food allergies.
Blood testing does not carry the risk for an allergic reaction and do not require parents to stop allergy medications prior to the test. Another advantage is that the test can be ordered by the doctor rather than setting a separate appointment with an allergist.
2 types of blood tests
- RAST (radioallergosorbent test) is fairly outdated than other similar methods but still used by some doctors. The test measures the level of antibodies and having low levels might not always indicate that the child is actually allergic to a particular allergen. This test requires careful interpretation by the doctor
- ELISA test (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) has largely replaced the RAST test. It has an advantage of avoiding radioactivity and more sensitive. The test is more efficient is determining food allergies than skin testing.
When to undergo testing?
Once the type of allergy testing is decided on, the next step is to decide when to take the test. Children can undergo testing even as infants. The next step is for parents to figure out what for and why the child will undergo testing.
Reasons to undergo testing for allergies
- Food allergies among infants and toddlers has been a common reason for parents to consider allergy testing.
- Asthma – pinpointing the triggers of asthma is often helpful in managing the symptoms.
- Eczema is also a common reason why allergy testing is performed among young children especially if the skin condition is poorly controlled.
- Recurrent common cold or sinus infections – if a child has runny nose or persistent sinus infections, it might be difficult to determine if he/she has recurrent infections or coping with allergies.
A blood test is ideal in testing for allergies among children. Aside from identifying the foods that the child is allergic to, it can provide an idea on the degree of allergy he/she has by assessing the amount of allergic antibody.
If the possible allergies suspected are not triggered by shellfish or nuts, an elimination diet can be started since it can oftentimes provide answers without subjecting the child to the discomfort of the procedures or for parents to pay the high cost of allergy testing.