Background: Diagnosis of food hypersensitivity (FHS) is difficult and interpretation of food allergy tests is complicated.
Objective: To investigate the probability of reported FHS in relation to levels of food-specific IgE-antibodies (AB) in a population-based setting of 4-year-old children (n = 2336).
Methods: Information on FHS was obtained from a questionnaire and specific IgE-AB to milk, egg, fish, peanut, soy and wheat were analysed.
Results: Thirty-one per cent of the children with reported FHS (n = 284) were sensitized (≥0.35 kUA/l) to at least one of the tested foods compared with 11% of children without FHS (n = 2052). Furthermore, the probability of reported symptoms to milk, egg and fish increased with increasing levels of food-specific IgE-AB to the same food allergens. A similar trend was seen for peanut and wheat, but not for soy. Increasing levels of specific IgE-AB to milk or egg were also associated with an increasing risk of reported symptoms caused by other foods.
Conclusions: Quantitative measurements of IgE-AB to milk, egg and fish are useful to evaluate IgE-associated FHS in preschool children also in a population based sample. Such measurements appear to be of limited value for soy bean and wheat, in particular as a screening method.