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Formerly Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust

Food Challenge

This page explains key information relating to your Food Challenge and how it can help you manage your child’s condition.


What is a Food Challenge?

The best way to know if a food is safe or causes a reaction, is to give your child the food whilst in a safe environment. Blood tests, and skin prick tests are helpful, but not as helpful as an actual food challenge to help us decide if your child has an active allergy to specific food types.

For all other concerns, or if your child is feeling unwell, their GP will remain your first point of contact.

Is the test dangerous?

No. In most cases, the test helps us alleviate fears, and reintroduce the restricted food into the diet of your child. In some children, we can confirm the allergy particular food. This helps us provide you with avoidance guidance.

On rare occasions, unpleasant allergy symptoms occur. To make the test safe, the food is given in amal steps with very close observation. We are then able to spot any reactions and deal with them safely, and efficiently.

Key things to note

It is important that your child is well on the day of the test. We know that illness and medicines can affect the food challenge results. If your child has an infection or has had a recent flare of eczema, asthma or hay fever, the test should be rearranged.

Some medicines mask allergic reactions and so we would not be able to do the test if antihistamines have been taken the week before.

Likewise, we wouldn’t perform a food challenge on a child who has received oral steroids in the month leading up to the test.

What does the test involve?

The test involves coming into hospital for approximately half a day. Measurements will be taken of pulse, blood pressure and breathing rate. A tiny amount of food is given (about the size of a grain of rice) and observations are made every 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes the amount of food will increase, and further observations are taken. Once the desired amount if eaten, your child will be observed for a further hour before being allowed home. If at any time your child is seen to have a reaction, the test is stopped, and treatment is given as required.

How can parents/guardians help?

Prepare at home to reduce anxiety. We also need you to bring in the food to be tested. This should be cooked/raw food as your family would eat at home like boiled eggs, cooked fish, cake, kiwi fruit, peanuts etc. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Food & drink must be limited and supervised during the challenge. You should have breakfast as normal and then only have access to other foods that you know they will tolerate well.



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