Home 5 Clinical Diagnostic Insider 5 Report Highlights Role Diagnostics Will Play in Food Allergy Safety

Report Highlights Role Diagnostics Will Play in Food Allergy Safety

by | Jan 18, 2017 | Clinical Diagnostic Insider, Diagnostic Testing and Emerging Technologies, Testing Trends-dtet

Despite the commonly held belief that the food allergy prevalence is rising, food allergies remain poorly studied and quantified, according a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report says that most studies likely overestimate the proportion of the population with food allergies. The task force that developed the report entitled "Finding a Path to Safety in Food Allergy: Assessment of the Global Burden, Causes, Prevention, Management, and Public Policy," suggests that diagnostics will play an important role in promoting future food allergy safety. The Committee on Food Allergies proposes both improved education regarding the abilities and limitations of currently available tests, as well as areas of future research for improving food allergy-related diagnostics. Both the public and health care providers frequently misinterpret food allergies and their symptoms. The committee recommends health care providers use proper diagnostic methods and evidence-based health care for food allergy diagnosis. Self-reported food allergies are known to be substantially higher rates than when allergies are confirmed with testing. This is often the result of the misconception that sensitization is the same as having a food allergy. However, self-reported medical history is necessary to "hone specific test selection," including differentiating food […]

Despite the commonly held belief that the food allergy prevalence is rising, food allergies remain poorly studied and quantified, according a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report says that most studies likely overestimate the proportion of the population with food allergies. The task force that developed the report entitled "Finding a Path to Safety in Food Allergy: Assessment of the Global Burden, Causes, Prevention, Management, and Public Policy," suggests that diagnostics will play an important role in promoting future food allergy safety. The Committee on Food Allergies proposes both improved education regarding the abilities and limitations of currently available tests, as well as areas of future research for improving food allergy-related diagnostics.

Both the public and health care providers frequently misinterpret food allergies and their symptoms. The committee recommends health care providers use proper diagnostic methods and evidence-based health care for food allergy diagnosis.

Self-reported food allergies are known to be substantially higher rates than when allergies are confirmed with testing. This is often the result of the misconception that sensitization is the same as having a food allergy. However, self-reported medical history is necessary to "hone specific test selection," including differentiating food allergy from other non-immunologically mediated disorders associated with food (e.g., food intolerances). The committee recommends improved education regarding existing tests, as well as recognition of tests that are not currently recommended.

No simple diagnostic tests exist for food allergy and existing tests, the authors say, are imperfect and not well standardized. The authors acknowledge that additional standardization and validation would require "extensive study" in expanded populations, but recommend optimizing currently available diagnostic tests and validating methodology. Additionally, the authors suggest further study on the cost effectiveness of testing, as well as the utility of emerging technologies (e.g., genomics, epigenomics, and metabolomics).

Takeaway: The new report from the National Academies recognizes the important role diagnostics can play in improving the nation's understanding of the prevalence of food allergies and future food allergy safety. Yet, current diagnostics are plagued by a lack of standardization and misunderstanding of results.

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