(HealthDay News) – Nearly one-third of parent-reported food allergies are not formally diagnosed by a physician, according to a study published online Sept 3 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

To describe parent reports of physician practices in the diagnosis of pediatric food allergies, Ruchi S. Gupta, MD, MPH, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from children with food allergy identified from a representative survey administered in U.S. households with children, from June 2009–February 2010.

The researchers found that 2,355 children from the sample of 38,480 children had 3,218 allergies to nine common food allergens. A physician diagnosed 70.4% of reported food allergy. Among food allergies diagnosed by a physician, 32.6% were not assessed with diagnostic testing, while 47.3, 39.9, and 20.2%, respectively, were assessed with a skin prick test, a serum specific immunoglobulin E test, and an oral food challenge. For severe food allergy, the odds of physician diagnosis and testing were significantly higher than for mild/moderate food allergy. For severe food allergies, urticaria and angioedema were not reported as symptoms in 40.7 and 34.6% of cases, respectively.

“The majority of reported food allergy is diagnosed by a physician and is associated with some form of testing, However, 30% of parent-reported food allergy in this study was not diagnosed by a physician,” the authors write. “True food allergy that goes undiagnosed or diagnosed food allergy that is not appropriately substantiated places children at increased risk for poor outcomes.”

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