Common methodologies in the evaluation of food allergy: Pitfalls and prospects of food allergy prevalence studies

Shang An Shu, Christopher Chang, Patrick S Leung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Global and regional studies on the prevalence of food allergies are plagued by inconsistent methodologies, variations in interpretation of results, and non-standardized study design. Hence, it becomes difficult to compare the prevalence of food allergies in different communities. This information would be useful in providing critical data that will enhance research to elucidate the nature of food allergies, and the role of gene-environment interactions in the sensitization of children and adults to foods. Testing methodologies range from questionnaires to objective in vitro and in vivo testing, to the gold standard, double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge (DBPCFC). Although considered the most accurate and reliable method in detecting the prevalence of food allergy, DBPCFC is not always practical in epidemiological studies of food allergy. On the other hand, multiple logistic regression studies have been done to determine predictability of the outcome of food challenges, and it appears that skin prick testing and in vitro-specific serum IgE are the best predictors. Future studies directed towards confirming the validity of these methods as well as developing algorithms to predict the food challenge outcomes are required, as they may someday become accessory tools to complement DBPCFC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-210
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge
  • Epicutaneous testing
  • Food allergy
  • Skin prick testing
  • Specific IgE antibody testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Medicine(all)


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