Atopy patch tests, together with determination of specific IgE levels, reduce the need for oral food challenges in children with atopic dermatitis

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Mar;107(3):548-53. doi: 10.1067/mai.2001.112849.


Background: Atopic dermatitis is commonly associated with food allergy. In addition to skin prick tests (SPTs) and measurements of specific IgE levels, the atopy patch test (APT) has recently been introduced into the diagnostic procedure for food allergy.

Objective: Our aim was to evaluate whether a combination of allergologic tests could improve the prognostic value of the individual tests for positive food challenge results. We hypothesized that the combination of a positive APT result plus proof of specific IgE, a positive SPT result, or both would render double-blind, placebo-controlled, food challenges unnecessary.

Methods: One hundred seventy-three double-blind, placebo-controlled, food challenges were performed in 98 children (median age, 13 months) with atopic dermatitis. All children were subjected to SPTs, APTs, and determination of specific IgE. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values were calculated.

Results: Ninety-five (55%) of 173 oral provocations were assessed as positive. For evaluating suspected cow's milk (CM) allergy, the APT was the best single predictive test (positive predictive value [PPV], 95%), and the combination of a positive APT result with evidence of specific IgE or an APT result together with a positive skin prick test response optimized the PPV to 100%. For hen's egg (HE) allergy, the APT was also the best single predictive test (PPV, 94%). The combination of 2 or more tests did not exceed the APT's predictive value. In both CM and HE challenges, the predictability of oral challenges depended on the level of specific IgE. For wheat allergy, the APT proved to be the most reliable test, and the PPV of 94% could not be improved by a combination with other allergologic tests.

Conclusion: The combination of positive APT results and measurement of levels of specific IgE (CM, > or = 0.35 kU/L; HE, > or = 17.5 kU/L) makes double-blind, placebo-controlled, food challenges superfluous for suspected CM and HE allergy.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / complications*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eating
  • Eggs / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / complications*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood*
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Skin Tests


  • Immunoglobulin E