Best Allergy Articles 2021 (Part 5): Allergy Test Ordering

In Pediatrics, supplement 3 summarizes 76 articles: Synopsis Book: Best Articles Relevant to Pediatric Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Some of the studies that are most relevant to pediatric GI doctors I am reviewing for this blog over the next/past few days.

MT Kraft et al. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2020; 125: 341-360. Review of Ordering Practices for Single-Allergen and Serum-Specific Immunoglobulin E Panel Tests for Food Allergy

In this study, the author’s examine the ordering of serum IgE food allergy tests at a single hospital in 2018. In total 12,345 tests were ordered by 400 physicians.

Key findings:

  • Allergists ordered 8986 tests, of which only 1.2% were food panels.
  • Nonallergists ordered 3368 tests, of which 37.5% were food panels.
  • Food panel ordering had dropped by 55% in absolute numbers since 2013.

In the commentary, it is noted that food serum IgE panels are not recommended “because more individuals will have detectable IgE sensitization than true symptoms” (aka false positives). “There is still a long way to go regarding educating families and nonallergist provideres on approaches to diagnosis of IgE-mediated food allergies.”

My take: This is a constant struggle. Everyday families want allergy testing on the assumption that it will be useful in treating their GI symptoms. Though dietary changes are frequently helpful in patients with GI problems, food allergy panels are likely to lead to more trouble than benefit.

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