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Allergy Testing for Children
Allergy Testing for Children

Allergy Testing for Children

If you suspect your child has an allergy, it is important to know what it is, that is causing the reaction. The substance causing a reaction is known as an allergen, and humans can be allergic to almost any substance. In order to diagnose an allergy, and find out what the allergen is, make an appointment to see our GP, who can order blood tests, or refer you to an immunologist for skin-prick testing or treatment. 

Allergies in children and infants are quite common these days and allergy-related disorders are considered to be the leading diagnoses of chronic diseases in children. The sooner these allergies are detected, the easier they can be treated or managed to ameliorate the symptoms and improve overall quality of life.  

Symptoms of developing allergies: 

  • skin rashes or eczema
  • trouble breathing
  • coughing
  • sneezing, congestion or runny nose
  • upset stomach
  • itchy eyes
  • adverse reactions to certain foods or medications

When you should undergo testing 

Allergies are common in both infants and children and they might interfere with: 

  • sleep
  • diet
  • skin condition and immune function
  • overall health
  • school attendance

If your child shows unpleasant reactions to certain foods, this could be an indication of a food allergy, the first step is to eliminate this food from the diet and observe the results. Further options include assessment, which will provide parents with definitive answers in respect of their child’s allergies. It’s possible to get your child tested at any age, however, skin-prick tests are not performedon children below 6 months. 

When you find symptoms which could be an allergy that do not subside within a few weeks, we recommend seeking the advice of your physician. 

Allergy Testing - What to Expect

Skin prick test 

When undergoing a skin-prick test, a small drop of an allergen is placed on your skin. It will then be pricked by using a needle so that some allergen might get into the skin. 

If your child has an allergy to any substance, then there will be a swollen red welt on your skin, easily recognisable and attributable to the particular allergen used. 

What you can expect from the test

Before any experiment is performed, the doctor will ask when you noticed symptoms appearing in your child with their health record that you might have. 

If your child is taking any medication, then you might have to stop them for a certain time before performing the test. The doctor will then determine the allergens for which they have conducted the tests. 

The testing is done on the inside your arm or on the back. The time needed for the assessment will vary based on how allergens are being checked to get the results on the same day. 

Blood test

We use the RAST test for allergies that calculate antibodies in the blood of your child caused by different allergens like foods. The higher the level, the more intense the allergy. 

What you can expect from the test

It is quite similar to other blood tests. A sample of blood is drawn and then sent to the laboratory for testing. Different allergies can be tested with one blood draw and there aren’t any risks or complications. 

Food challenge test

If you need to diagnose a food allergy, then the doctors will use blood allergy testing. If the results are uncertain, then you will have to perform a food challenge test. 

Food challenge tests are done to determine if your child has some kind of food allergy and know whether they have outgrown a food allergy. 

What you can expect from the test

Your child is given whatever allergen is suspected and then closely monitored throughout to detect any reactions. For example, if you suspect an allergy to milk, you would give you child a glass of milk to drink, before monitoring them very closely for signs of an allergy. Food Challenge Testing should only be done with one allergen at a time, so as to be sure of the item causing the allergy. 

Before conducting the test, you should inform the immunologist about any medications your child is taking as they might have to discontinue them for some time. Your child should not eat anything for 6 hours before testing. 

Elimination diet

Elimination diets are the opposite of a food challenge test, where the potential offending allergen is excluded from the diet, and the results monitored to see if there is any improvement in symptoms. 

What you can expect from elimination diet

Firstly, you should remove any suspected food from your child’s diet for at least two to three weeks and be attentive for any change in their symptoms.

In the event of there being no noticeable change, you may slowly reintroduce each food whilst keeping a keen eye for allergic reactions such as changes in breathing, bowel habits, trouble sleeping or rashes. 

Some FAQs on Allergy Testing

How accurate are the test results? 

The results will differ based on the type of test conducted and specific allergy you might have. You need to consult with your doctor to know the accuracy of each test. 

Can you do more than one test at a time? 

Yes, we can perform skin prick testing and blood allergy testing at the same time. Elimination and Food Challenge testing should be performed on one allergen at a time. 

What do the test results indicate? 

If your child has some kind of reaction to food challenge test or elimination diet test, then it indicates they are allergic to certain foods and they should stay away from it.

All other tests are clinician-led so results will be explained to you during your consultation. 

What will come next after the test result? 

If your child has one or more allergies, then the doctor will suggest a treatment plan. The specific plan will differ based on the type of allergy, but might include prescription or over-the-counter medications, allergy shots, or avoid allergens, irritants or foods. 

If there are certain things that your child should avoid, then the immunologist will provide suggestions. You need to follow the instructions of your immunologist on treating a particular reaction when your child comes into contact with the allergen.