Repeating Your Child’s Food Allergy Test: How Often is Enough?

My food allergic childHow often are you bringing your child back for yet another food allergy test? Are you finding that it is becoming a constant struggle to not only discuss the thought of the test let alone get them to the office without sending them into more than a slight panic? You are not alone in this effort. Chances are your family is very much like countless other families that have accepted follow-up panels and food allergy challenges as part of the new yearly check-up routine. But is having a retest done every single year overdoing it and how should we know when enough is enough? Does there seem to be more open-mindedness that gives you optimism? Does the doctor that your family chose seem to have your child’s best interest at heart? As a fellow food allergy parent, I wanted to share some of my thoughts:

Have a sit down with your child to discuss this first. Your child is a tiny sponge and is generally much more aware of whatever is going on within the household than you are even realize. What makes them most uncomfortable is not knowing and not having a say in what’s going on. As an adult, I’m sure you would also agree that anything surrounding tests on your self would surely not be done until you discussed all of the pros, cons and what the test would provide. This should not be any different for your child. Get your child’s thoughts on why they may not be ready to test again.

  • What is it exactly that they are afraid of- Is it the blood test, the food challenge, the needle? Everyone has fears so what can we do to make this a little less traumatic while also teaching them that these tests are a necessary part of keeping them safe and, possibly, offering more options in the future.
  • What does your child think will happen? Are they afraid of getting hurt or having a reaction? This is completely normal and needs to be handled with great care. After all, they have been taught to avoid foods as a matter of life or death and now, you are asking them to try a little bit of it. You know you would be afraid too.

As the parent, how do YOU feel about more testing? There are so many opinions flying around and it can be an enormous effort for any parent making literally any decision for their child. Rather than feeling obligated to go along with what everyone else considers to be the norm, stop and ask yourself if these particular events are right for your child’s needs. Not all food allergies are alike and neither are the needs of every family. Different dynamics means that you must also find your own groove and stay with the methods that work best for your child’s health and well being, nobody else’s. There will always be what-if’s but there will never be another one of your child.

Leave it up to your child. This may seem crazy, but this could be an option for your family’s future food allergy panels. As much as it an additional test may help your child & family, if your child is responsible for the decision, it might actually be the better thing to rely on. Why?

  • It may empower them to NOT feel as worried and want to proceed
  • It may show them that you are on “their side” and get them ready for the next go-round
  • It may even bump up their wanting to find out more about testing and how it could mean changes with their food allergies, good or bad.

Do what works for you. In the end, the frequency of retesting for food allergy levels and reactions should be what everyone in your family decides. If you choose to go yearly, once every few years or even decide that a food challenge is not something that is an urgent item on your to-do list, then be comfortable with your decision. You may get some resistance and most likely, you will have to sit through more than one lecture of another parent who chooses to retest their child more regularly. Remember to be polite but firm and offer to explain why your family has made their choice about testing. It should never be an argument- just an on-going discussion. I promise that you that somewhere along the way, you will also get symbols and signs to let you know that your decision was the right one. Your parental skills are what lead you to keeping your child safe in the first place so why should this be any different?

About the Author

Tracy Bush is the founder and President of Nutrimom, Inc., also known as Nutrimom - Food Allergy Liason, a consulting business that specializes in providing guidance and support for anyone that has been diagnosed with food allergies. Tracy helps others with simple steps, such as finding safe, wholesome foods to supplement allergenic foods, where to shop and how to maximize their budget while adjusting to their dietary change. You can view additional information about what she does as well as her new e-book "The Stepping Stones to Food Allergies" at Tracy is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


3 Responses to “Repeating Your Child’s Food Allergy Test: How Often is Enough?”

  1. It makes sense that the frequency of retesting for food allergies should be something that your family decides on. I personally don’t think it’s incredibly urgent to have done, so I might only have my family go every few years at most. That said, I’ll still have to talk with the rest of them and see what their opinion on the matter is.

  2. Julie Myers says:

    A few years back, we found out that my daughter is allergic to peanuts. I think it would be really good for us to continue to get her tested so that we can know if she is still allergic to them. It is really helpful to get these suggestions on how to make the testing go more smoothly. I don’t want her to be really nervous about going in, so I will be sure to sit down with her to talk about what will happen and what they expect. However, in the end, I do agree that it may be best to let her make the final decision on whether or not she wants to be tested again. Thanks for the great post!

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      Hi Julie…thanks so much for stopping by and letting us know this was helpful! Nutrimom is great, btw! She’s incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to food allergies, so if you or your daughter have any more questions, please feel free to stop by and ask, and we’ll make sure she gets it. Thanks again!

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