Allergy testing in childhood: using allergen-specific IgE tests

Pediatrics. 2012 Jan;129(1):193-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2382. Epub 2011 Dec 26.


A variety of triggers can induce common pediatric allergic diseases which include asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, food allergy, and anaphylaxis. Allergy testing serves to confirm an allergic trigger suspected on the basis of history. Tests for allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) are performed by in vitro assays or skin tests. The tests are excellent for identifying a sensitized state in which allergen-specific IgE is present, and may identify triggers to be eliminated and help guide immunotherapy treatment. However, a positive test result does not always equate with clinical allergy. Newer enzymatic assays based on anti-IgE antibodies have supplanted the radioallergosorbent test (RAST). This clinical report focuses on allergen-specific IgE testing, emphasizing that the medical history and knowledge of disease characteristics are crucial for rational test selection and interpretation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Child
  • Cross Reactions
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Immunoglobulin E / analysis*
  • Infant
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / diagnosis


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E