FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Colleen Valdini
Public & External Affairs Manager
VP, Public & External Affairs
Phone: (631) 376-4104Date:
Date: December 21, 2010
West Islip, NY – Recently, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases released the first clinical guidelines for diagnosing and treating food allergies. The report emphasizes that neither blood nor skin tests alone are sufficient when making a diagnosis. Documenting a history of how foods affect an individual over time is a key component in accurately determining whether that person is allergic to a specific food.
“The most important question in diagnosing a food allergy is whether the person has tolerated the food in the past,” stated Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center’s Chief of Allergy and Immunology Louis Guida, MD. “While some severe allergies are obvious, parents of young children who have tested positive in a blood test should seek advice from an experienced allergist who performs medically supervised ‘food challenge’ testing. Even when a food allergy has been confirmed, parents should have their children retested at some point, because many allergies are outgrown, particularly in the cases of milk, eggs, soy and wheat.”
The first test should be blood work, with circulating antibodies, followed by skin testing with the allergen and actual food. Finally, a food challenge should be done to see whether the patient has an anaphylactic reaction. More than 11 million Americans, including 3 million children, are estimated to have food allergies, most commonly pertaining to milk, eggs, peanuts and soy. The incidence of allergies among children has risen 18 percent in the past decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the same time, it is believed that a number of misdiagnoses have resulted from a reliance on blood tests. These tests have emerged as a quick, convenient alternative to uncomfortable skin testing and food challenge tests, which measure a child’s reaction to eating certain foods, under a doctor’s supervision. While blood tests can help doctors identify potentially risky foods, they aren’t always reliable because they may fail to distinguish between similar proteins in different foods.
“Doing a series of tests, not just blood work, is more time-consuming, but has been shown to be more definitive,” explained Dr. Guida. “These new guidelines better enable physicians to make an accurate diagnosis. For childhood allergies, it might not be necessary to eliminate certain foods forever, since intolerance can change as children mature.”
For more information on allergy services at Good Samaritan Hospital, call (631) 376-4444.
Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center is a 537-bed (including 100 nursing home beds), voluntary, not-for-profit hospital located in West Islip. The medical center, which has more than 4,500 employees and almost 900 physicians on staff, had more than 30,000 patient admissions and more than 95,000 emergency room visits in 2009. Good Samaritan is a member of Catholic Health Services of Long Island. Visit the website at www.good-samaritan-hospital.org.
Good Samaritan provides more than $54 million in community service and charity care each year. The medical center supplies residents with the tools necessary to maintain good health. This includes community lectures, screenings, health fairs and other community programs and services.