Young boy dies during oral food allergy challenge

Medically supervised oral food challenges are considered the ‘gold standard’ test to determine if someone is allergic to a food. A three year old boy in the USA has died in what is thought to be the first reported fatality associated with an oral food allergy challenge.

An oral food challenge sees a patient consume small amounts of the food they might be allergic to, with doctors watching the results. Often, children undergo food challenges to see if they have outgrown certain allergies, or to determine what dose they may be able to tolerate without an observable reaction.

While it has been reported the boy was undergoing a baked milk challenge, further details have not been released so it is not clear what went wrong during the routine test. Allergists have hastened to reassure families that the relative risk of death with a food challenge is very low, and that food challenges remain an important tool in the diagnosis and management of food allergy.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology have issued a joint statement in response to news of the boy’s tragic death.

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