Updated 08 June 2017

Parents of kids with allergies mostly allergy-free themselves

In a study, only one-third of parents who said that they, like their kids, had food allergies actually tested positive for food allergies.


Many parents of children with food allergies mistakenly believe they are allergic, too, a new study finds.

Tests not always reliable

The study included parents who said they, like their kids, had food allergies. But fewer than one-third of the parents tested positive for food allergies.

The study was published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

"Either people haven't been tested and are assuming an allergy from a previous reaction to a food, or they haven't been tested properly and may not truly have an allergy. Allergy testing, including blood and skin prick testing, is not always reliable," co-lead author Dr Melanie Makhija said in a journal news release.

Read: Allergy tests that don't work

The study included nearly 2,500 parents whose children had food allergies. Of these, almost 14 percent of parents said they themselves had a food allergy. But when those parents were tested, researchers found that only 28 percent of them had a true allergy.

False positives

Previous studies have focused on the general adult population, according to study co-lead author Dr Rachel Robison.

"While we found positive test results were more common in parents of kids with food allergies, the actual levels in the blood for the foods were quite low. Low positives in allergy testing are more likely to be false positives. This points to the importance of proper testing for any kind of allergy, but particularly food allergies," Robison said.

Read: Allergy testing scams exposed

"Interestingly, we also found that of the parents who reported no food allergy, 14 percent had positive tests to peanut and sesame, for example," she said.

Robison and Makhija are allergists at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and assistant professors at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.


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Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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