Oral Food Challenge

Oral Food challenges are tests that are done to see if your child is allergic to or able to eat a particular food in a supervised setting.

The decision whether a child needs an oral food challenge is based on the child’s history and allergy test results (skin prick test and serum specific IgE). Oral food challenge is considered when the chances of tolerating the food are high, and introducing that food into child’s diet may help the child and the family to lead a normal life, with less dietary restrictions.

What is a food challenge?

An oral food challenge is a test where the child is given specific food in measured doses under close medical supervision. The oral food challenge starts with a very small amount of the food and then gradually bigger doses (usually every 20 minutes), until a reaction occurs or the ‘top dose’ is eaten without any allergic reaction. The ‘top dose’ is a normal portion for your child’s age. A food challenge usually lasts for four to five hours.

What are the benefits of having a food challenge?

An oral food challenge will confirm whether your child has a food allergy or not.

  • Successful or Passed Challenge: No reaction during the test; food can be introduced into diet
  • Unsuccessful or Failed Challenge: Reaction at the challenge, need to continue to avoid that food

What will happen on the challenge day?

We usually perform the oral food challenge in the hospital as a short day care admission for 4-6 hours. Pre test vitals are taken including temperature, blood pressure and oxygen levels. These will be repeated during the test as needed. Child will usually receive up to five increasing doses of the food every 15-20 minutes. The last dose is almost equal to the normal portion size for their age.

In case of no reaction the child is discharged after 2 hours of observation. In case a reaction happens to any dose no further doses are given. The allergic reaction is treated as needed.

What will happen after the oral food challenge?

We shall discuss with you the outcome of the oral food challenge and advice accordingly. After a negative (successful) challenge, the child can safely eat the food on a regular basis. In case the oral food challenge is positive (unsuccessful) challenge, the concerned food should be avoided.