Researchers at King’s College London in England have developed a new blood test to diagnose peanut allergies that may be safer, more accurate, and less expensive than existing tests and could be modified to diagnose other food allergies as well.
Diagnosing peanut allergies typically involves skin-prick tests, which are often inconclusive, followed by an oral challenge, which involves exposure to increasingly large doses of peanuts in a hospital, clinic, or other controlled setting to confirm or rule out the allergy. But oral food challenges carry the risk of severe allergic reactions.
The King’s College study involved 174 children aged 6 months to 17 years, 73 of whom were allergic to peanuts. More research in a clinical setting is needed, but the new blood test was highly specific for peanut allergy and could eliminate the need for oral peanut-challenge testing.