A new blood test may be able to predict who will have severe allergic reactions to foods, researchers from Mount Sinai have reported. Study findings are published in The Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Skin prick tests and blood tests that measure allergen-specific (sIgE) levels are used to detect food allergies, not the severity of allergic reactions. The gold standard for diagnosing food allergy is the oral food challenge though the tests can trigger severe reactions. Researchers found that by counting the numbers of basophils activated by exposure to a food, a simple blood test can then predict the severity of each person’s reaction to it. This blood test, called the basophil activation test (BAT), can produce fast results with a small blood sample.

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In the double-blind study (n=67), researchers obtained blood samples from patients aged 12–45 years who also underwent a food challenge with a placebo or with peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, or sesame. A strong correlation was seen between BAT testing data and food challenge severity scores. Findings support that BAT testing can identify allergic and non-allergic patients and can serve as another tool to predict severity of the reaction.

For more information visit MountSinai.org.