Parents place children on risky exclusion diets due to mistaken belief they could beat allergies
- Experts blame allergy tests which claim conditions beaten by avoiding foods
- Following this advice could lead to nutritional deficiencies, it was claimed
- Parents may even trigger an allergy by excluding food groups from child’s diet
Parents are putting children on risky exclusion diets in the mistaken belief that they could beat allergies, experts warn.
Researchers blame bogus allergy tests that claim childhood eczema and asthma can be beaten by avoiding foods such as tomatoes, strawberries and milk.
Experts say following this advice can lead to nutritional deficiencies, and avoiding dairy can cause irreversible bone growth problems as children miss out on vital calcium.
By excluding food groups from a child’s diet, anxious parents may even trigger an allergy, dermatologists warned.
They highlighted private food allergy tests sold online that, they say, promote unhealthy and potentially dangerous diets and do not meet NHS standards.
Parents are putting children on risky exclusion diets in the mistaken belief that they could beat allergies, experts warn. Pictured: Stock image
These tests have boomed in popularity – particularly those for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Two studies presented this month at the British Association of Dermatologists annual conference investigated 18 online firms and found many didn’t use laboratories with ‘relevant accreditation’, and ‘the type of tests used often lack scientific evidence to support their use’.
This means the results may not be accurate, or worse, give false-positive test results, they said.
They singled out so-called IgG testing, which has no scientific backing for food intolerance, and unproven ‘bioresonance’ tests of hair samples to identify potential sensitivities.
Only one firm requested a patient’s clinical history and had its results reviewed by a physician.
Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust dermatologist Dr Alice Plant said: ‘Patients with inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis are keen to understand their personal triggers to help get their condition under control.
Researchers blame bogus allergy tests that claim childhood eczema and asthma can be beaten by avoiding foods such as tomatoes, strawberries and milk. Pictured: Stock image
‘Parents often ask whether certain foods could be causing their child’s eczema to flare.
‘But allergy test results require careful interpretation in the context of the patient’s clinical history by a skilled professional.
‘There is a lack of evidence to suggest certain foods trigger eczema, and we would encourage people to continue with treatments prescribed by their doctor rather than eliminating foods without discussing this with a medical professional.
‘In children, unnecessary dietary exclusions may actually cause a true allergy.’
Holly Barber, spokesman for the British Association of Dermatologists, said: ‘Anybody who suspects they have an allergy should visit their GP, as allergy testing is available on the NHS.
‘There is no need to spend money on private test.’