New peanut allergy test created that cuts out risky food challenge

Scientists have developed a new blood test to diagnose peanut allergies they believe is safer and more accurate than methods doctors currently use on patients.

If rolled out, the new test could catch a peanut allergy before patients have to undergo the oral food challenge (OFC), widely regarded as the gold standard for identifying the condition. The OFC involves gradually feeding a patient incrementally larger amounts of peanuts, and must be carried out in a controlled hospital setting because of the risk of potentially life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
The new test boasts a 98 percent accuracy rate, and cuts the risk of false-positives. This occurs when the test suggests a person is allergic, even though they can eat nuts without suffering symptoms.

A peanut allergy is triggered when allergens react with an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). This sets off symptoms ranging from itching skin to the throat and airways closing up. Digestive problems, such as stomach cramps and vomiting, are also common. The condition is most often diagnosed in young children, although it can develop later in life. Up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.9 million children under the age of 18.

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