Controlled oral food challenges in children – when indicated, when superfluous?
The diagnostic work-up of suspected food allergy includes the skin prick test (SPT), the measurement of food specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies using serologic assays, and more recently the atopy patch test (APT). For specific serum IgE and the SPT, decision points have been established for some foods allowing prediction of clinical relevance in selected cases. The APT may be helpful, especially when considered in combination with defined levels of specific IgE. Controlled oral food challenges still remain the gold standard in the diagnostic work-up of children with suspected food allergy. Most food allergic children will lose their allergy over time. As there is no laboratory parameter, which can accurately predict when clinical tolerance has been developed, controlled oral food challenges are the measure of choice. In this article, the current knowledge of predictors for the outcome of oral food challenges is reviewed and proposals for the daily practical work-up in the case of suspected food related clinical symptoms are presented.