There are few things more frightening for a parent than a child with life-threatening allergies and the process of diagnosing them can be equally scary. Now, there’s a new peanut allergy test that is 98 percent more accurate than current testing methods, as found by the UK’s Medical Research Council.

The Mast Activation Test (MAT) is a basic blood test that is five-times more cost-efficient than the oral food challenge (OFC), but more importantly, it doesn’t run the risk of false positives or inducing anaphylactic shock as a result of an allergic reaction. Parents can breathe a sigh of relief.

peanuts

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For now, the MAT will only act as a secondary way to diagnose potential peanut allergies after a skin-prick or IgE test has returned a positive result. It will not replace the initial testing methods.

In lieu of performing the expensive, time-consuming and scary oral food challenge in which kids are fed increasing amounts of peanuts in a setting such as a hospital, the MAT will come in handy. Scientists expect a huge reduction of OFC tests and allergic reactions when using the MAT to confirm a peanut allergy.

For now, the test is restricted to just the diagnosis of peanut allergies. However, scientists have plans to adapt the test to identify other allergies like tree nuts, milk, eggs and sesame.

––Karly Wood

 

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