Allergy testing and referral in children.Aust Fam Physician 2008; 37(4):210-3AF
Allergic diseases (asthma, atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis and food allergy) are the commonest chronic diseases of childhood. General practitioners commonly encounter children with allergic diseases and need to be aware of when referral to a paediatric allergist should be considered. An understanding of what diagnostic tests the allergist may use in confirming the diagnosis is also necessary.
This article discusses the criteria for referral to a specialist paediatric allergist and also details the tests that may be used by the allergist as part of the diagnostic work up.
Management of allergic diseases requires accurate diagnosis and avoidance of offending allergens where possible. The diagnosis of an IgE mediated allergy requires both a history of symptoms on exposure to the allergen and detection of allergen specific IgE. The most commonly employed diagnostic methods in clinical allergy assessment are skin prick testing, RAST and clinical oral food challenge procedures. The use of alternative or unorthodox tests may provide misleading results and delay correct diagnosis and therefore should not be used.