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How young is too young for allergy testing?

Published on Nov 28, 2011 with 0 comment

Allergy testing is a procedure that is performed by allergists to diagnose allergies.  How young can a child be to take an allergy test?

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as too young for allergy testing.  And, contrary to popular belief, allergy testing can even be done at less than a year of age, either by a skin allergy test or through a blood allergy test.  Both methods of allergy testing are quite accurate, but there is no perfect test.  Each has advantages and disadvantages.  The key is for your allergist to correlate the allergy test results with the clinical presentation.  Your allergist will recommend which method would be preferable for you or your child.

Most board certified allergists prefer skin allergy testing by the prick method.  This procedure takes only moments to apply and the results are available in about 20 minutes.  Multiple allergens can be tested at one time.  Children generally tolerate this simple procedure quite well, as it is only minimally uncomfortable.  The most difficult part of skin testing can be the itchiness that occurs locally on the histamine (positive control) prick, or from any positive reactions.  If local itchiness does occur, it lasts for only a few minutes.  It is necessary that the patient be off of all antihistamines for at least 3 days prior to skin testing.

When skin testing is not an option, an allergy blood test can be done. This requires several milliliters of blood being drawn from the child’s arm.  The blood is sent to a qualified lab and results are generally available within several days.  Multiple allergens can be tested, but the cost can get quite prohibitive.  Fortunately, antihistamines do not influence the results of the blood test.

Although allergy testing can be done at a young age, keep in mind that most allergies which present in the first year or two of life are usually caused by a food.  After two, the incidence of allergies to inhalants, such as dust mites, molds, pets, and pollens increases dramatically.  Your allergist may try to delay allergy testing as long as possible as a child’s allergy profile can change dramatically in the first few years of age.  Either way, given proper care and treatment, most allergy sufferers can get their allergy symptoms under control, and can live comfortable, allergy-free lives.


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