We have been able to offer food challenges to our patients over the years and we have many children who have done very well with the food challenge. We usually do food challenges to show, in a safe and controlled clinical environment, that the child may have outgrown their food allergy. We can also do a food challenge when there is a question about a food allergy- sometimes a test for a food allergy is done and the child may have been eating that food without any problems or they may have never had any exposure to the food in question. The food challenge may help clear-up the situation.
Parents who are scheduling a food challenge often have many questions. What follows are some of those FAQs (frequently asked questions). What follows was written by Lucinda Meyer- our allergy nurse at the Riley Outpatient Center. Hopefully these FAQs will help those who are anticipating doing a food challenge.
When Your Child is scheduled to undergo an Office Food Challenge;
- Please stop antihistamines one week before the scheduled challenge. Antihistamines may include Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Claritan ( loratadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), Allegra (fexofenadine), or Atarax В (hydroxyzine) вЂ“ there are many more. If you have any questions about a medication, call the office.
- All challenges are scheduled for 8:00 am. Please arrive at 7:45, so we may begin promptly at 8:00am. Challenges usually take all morning to complete. If we cannot start on time, we may need to reschedule.
- You will be asked to bring two snack pack size servings of applesauce, pudding, soy milk, etc. This is something to use to mix the food into. Pick something that the child has had experience with and likes! We will discuss what your child usually eats to make the challenge more palatable.
- Your child may eat breakfast, but no other food or drink will be allowed during the challenge.
- We encourage you to bring age appropriate diversion activities such as books, toys, or games. We have a DVD player and movies available in the clinic.
- If the challenge is successful, we advise not eating the particular challenge food for the rest of the day. Any promises for special treats that have been avoided should be postponed for the next day.
What Happens During the Office Food Challenge?
- You will have a room in the clinic for the morning.
- The child will have a set of vital signs taken.
- The physician will talk with you before the procedure and have you sign the consent form. The physician will go over the history of the reaction. A limited physical examination will be performed as well.
- The nurse will give your child increasing amounts of the challenge food in a powder form mixed with the food or drink you provided. Every 15 minutes, we give a doubled dose of the challenge food until the child eats a full serving of the food. You will stay for 30 minutes to one hour for observation after the challenge is completed.
- At the first sign of any reaction, we will assess your child, treat the reaction if needed, and stop the challenge. We determine then how long you need to remain in the clinic.
As always, if there are questions- call. Riley- 317-274-7208 and IU Health North 317-688-5700.