Siblings of children with food allergy should not be screened routinely for such allergies before food introduction, results of a large cohort study suggest.

In a study of 478 food-allergic children and 642 of their siblings, 53% of the siblings were sensitized without clinical reactivity and only 13.6% were found to have a clinically reactive food allergy, wrote Ruchi S. Gupta, MD , of Northwestern University, Chicago, and her associates.

The investigators noted that their findings support current guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to not screen siblings based on another sibling having a food allergy.

“Given the lack of a dramatically increased risk of food allergy in siblings, compared with that of the general population, as well as the high rate of what are falsely positive diagnostic test results among siblings of a food allergic child, [these siblings] should not have routine screening for food allergy before food introduction,” the investigators concluded. “Such siblings are likely to be mislabeled as allergic when they are actually tolerant to the food, which may lead to an increased risk of developing allergy via avoidance,” and both quality of life and nutrition may be adversely impacted.

Dr. Gupta has received research support from Mylan, Food Allergy Research and Education, and United Health Care.

Read the full study here (


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