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Continuing food-avoidance diets after negative food challenges


Philippe A. Eigenmann, University Hospital of Geneva, Department of Paediatrics, 6 rue Willy-Donze, 1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland
Tel.: +41-22-382 4531
Fax: +41-22-382 4779


Negative food challenges for follow-up in patients previously diagnosed with food allergy should logically be followed by a normal diet. However, all patients do not reintroduce the food. The aims of the study were to define the proportion of negative food challenge not followed by a normal diet, and to identify possible reasons for not reintroducing the food. Patients with a negative food challenge were sent a questionnaire by mail. Items in the questionnaire included the symptoms at diagnosis, the duration of the diet, the fear of an accidental reaction during the avoidance diet and how it influenced the social life. Patients were also asked if the food was reintroduced after the negative food challenge, and if not, for which reasons. In 25.4% of the questionnaires (18/71) respondents reported that the food was not reintroduced. Patients with a previous diagnosis of peanut allergy tended to reintroduce the food less frequently than patients allergic to other foods. Girls were found to significantly less frequently reintroduce the food than boys. However, neither the severity of the initial reaction, the anxiety of an accidental reaction during the avoidance diet, nor a prolonged avoidance diet did influence the decision to reintroduce the food. Among other reasons listed, fears of persistence of allergies, with recurrent pruritus or non-specific skin rashes after eating the food, were reported in 12.7% of the total number of questionnaires. Patients who reintroduced the food reported that their social life generally improved. One quarter of previously allergic patients continue a food avoidance diet despite a negative challenge. We suggest reassessing food consumption in all patients after a negative food challenge, and in those still avoiding the specific food to consider a repeated challenge test.