Food challenge testing

A test to check for allergies to a food or substance

A diagnostic investigation to discover if a child is allergic to a particular food or medicine such as types of antibiotics

About food challenge testing

A food challenge is considered the 'gold standard' diagnostic test for food allergies. It is the only true way of knowing whether your child will have an allergic reaction to a food. These tests are also useful to check whether a child has outgrown their allergy to a certain food or medicine.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    A food challenge is carried out by a clinical nurse specialist in a controlled environment in our dedicated paediatric day case unit at The Portland Hospital. The food will be given slowly to your child in small increments or measured doses. Your child will be watched for a period of time to ensure they don't have an allergic reaction.

    The specialist nurse will spot any symptoms or signs of an allergic reaction in the early stages, such as wheezing or coughing, hives, itching, red rash or swelling. If this happens, the test will be stopped immediately and your child will be given medication, such as antihistamines or asthma medications.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    About 48 hours before the challenge, your specialist nurse will call you to complete a pre-challenge assessment. If your child takes a regular long acting antihistamine, they'll need to stop taking this ideally seven days before the food challenge. If they take a regular short‐acting antihistamine, they'll to stop taking it two days before the food challenge.

    If your child is using a inhaler regularly due to asthma, their appointment may need to be rescheduled. Make sure you tell the specialist nurse about any other medications your child takes during the pre‐challenge phone call.

  • Afterwards icon plus

    If your child needs to carry adrenaline auto injectors, the specialist nurse will take you and your child through an emergency management plan for an allergic reaction and show you how to use the injector. They will phone you within 48-72 hours after the food challenge to ensure your child has remained well and you have no further questions.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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