Don’t self-diagnose food allergies

Posted by Josette Dunn on 11th August 2010

 “It can be extremely worrying for parents when they suspect their child has a food allergy, but wrongly diagnosing someone with a food allergy could also have a serious negative effect on their health” says Food Standards Agency’s Chief Scientist Andrew Wadge.The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has just published for comment a draft clinical practice guideline on food allergy in children and young people – which Wadge hopes will mean greater consistency in the way children are diagnosed with food allergies and how their allergies are then managed.

One very important point that the draft guidelines make is that people shouldn’t be using the ‘do it yourself’ diagnostic kits that are available to buy in shops or on the Internet.

Many of these kits being offered to the public have no valid scientific basis to support them, however they’re being sold as trusted scientific or medical tests.

It’s not just that people might be wasting money on a product that doesn’t work. There are real dangers that if people do use these tests and are misdiagnosed, they could, as a result, cut lots of nutritionally important foods out of their diet – having significant consequences, particularly in young children.

There’s lots of advice on allergy and intolerance on the Agency’s eatwell website, but in addition to this the FSA recommends that you discuss concerns about food allergies with a qualified health professional and you may want to ask your GP to refer you or your child to a specialist allergy clinic for a detailed diagnosis.