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Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system to a particular substance. The body's immune system treats the substance (called an allergen) as an invader and reacts inappropriately, resulting in allergy symptoms that can be anywhere from annoying to possibly harmful to the person.

Allergy symptoms in children

Symptoms of allergies seem to range from a slight sniffle to potentially lethal anaphylaxis. With such a wide range of culprit triggers – dust, animals, pollen, dairy products and wheat to name just a few.

Allergic disease has increased dramatically over the past few years and now affects an incredible 40% of British children.

Allergy testing in children

The Portland Hospital recognises how important it is to test, diagnose and manage allergies effectively and therefore has a comprehensive team of Consultant Paediatric Allergists together with access to the most up to date diagnostic allergy tests.

Common allergic treatments at The Portland Hospital include:

  • Food allergies
  • Skin allergies/eczema
  • Asthma
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • GI allergy
  • Animal allergy
  • Product allergy
  • Severe reactions to insect stings
  • Reactions to medication
  • Hayfever

Allergy Challenge Testing Service

The Portland Hospital also offers a comprehensive Allergy Challenge Testing Service within its newly built dedicated Paediatric Day Case Unit. For further information please review our Allergy Patient Information Sheet or to arrange an appointment, please email our allergy clinical nurse specialist at

Skin prick tests and/or specific IgE blood tests do not always clearly identify whether a child is allergic to a particular food and it is in these situations that a food challenge is indicated.

What is a food challenge test?

food challenge test remains the ‘gold standard’ investigation to discover if a child is or is not allergic to a particular food or medicine e.g. antibiotics. These tests are also useful to check whether a child has outgrown their allergy which often occurs to certain foods with milk and egg allergies and medicine e.g.antibiotics.

How is a food allergy test done?

The food allergy test itself is carried out safely by specialist nurses who administer supervised feeds, whilst monitoring the child for any sign of allergic reactions. Play specialists are also on hand to assist with children who are anxious about the feeds and help to put children and their parents at ease.

Food challenges for food allergy testing are safe to carry out as long as they are conducted by an experienced allergy team of Dietitians, Nurses and Consultants in a hospital that has emergency back-up in place.

Drug allergy test in children

Drug allergy testing is very similar to the processes used for food challenges but supervised antibiotic trials are used to ensure tolerance and involve the use of suspected medicines which cause an allergic reaction, for instance antibiotics or local anaesthetics.

In most cases the allergy testing does not cause extreme reactions, if a reaction does occur it is treated immediately to prevent it developing into a severe reaction. However, in situations where a severe reaction does occur then there is a full on site paediatric back up, including a level 3 Paediatric Intensive Care Unit should the need arise.

The service also offers vaccinations to egg allergic children using egg-containing vaccines such as Flu, Yellow Fever, and MMR. Vaccinations to chickenpox are also offered by the service.

At the Portland Hospital parents have the peace of mind that their child is being tested or treated exclusively by specialist allergy consultants and nurses supported by leading paediatric facilities.

Paediatric Consultant Allergists

Dr Helen Brough
Professor George Du Toit
Dr Adam Fox
Professor Gideon Lack
Dr Michael Perkin

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