How reliable are commercial allergy tests?

Lancet. 1987 Jan 10;1(8524):92-4. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(87)91922-2.


The ability to diagnose allergic disease was studied in 9 fish-allergic and 9 control subjects, who provided specimens of blood and hair for testing. All fish-allergic subjects had previously been shown at Guy's Hospital to have a positive skin prick test to fish. The specimens were submitted as coded, duplicate samples to five laboratories which all offer a commercial service in carrying out diagnostic tests for allergy. All five laboratories were not only unable to diagnose fish allergy but also reported many allergies in apparently non-allergic subjects and provided inconsistent results on duplicate samples from the same subject.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Fishes*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Hair / immunology
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Quality Control