Scientists at University College Cork have developed an online calculator that predicts the presence of the 3 major food allergies in children, giving nearly instantaneous results. The new calculator has been shown to be 96% accurate, compared to current methods that are only 60 to 80 percent accurate.

Food allergies have increased significantly over the past two decades, and doctors are seeing an even higher number of patients and their parents seeking a diagnosis. While food challenges are the standard method to diagnose a food allergy, these can be costly and time consuming. Often, parents are worried that their children will suffer a severe allergic reaction during the test.

The researchers devised allergen-specific algorithms for allergies to milk, egg, and peanuts. This mathematical model takes into account known or suspected predictors which may indicate the presence of a food allergy. From analyzing the available data on clinical factors related to food allergies, they were able to develop an effective model for predicting food allergies as children.

This research has recently been published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology. The new calculator is expected to reduce the cost and necessity of food allergy tests. Known as the Cork-Southampton calculator, this algorithm is expected to have implications for food challenges and conventional food allergy tests as well as immunotherapy to desensitize children to food allergens.

Read more about this new development in the diagnosis of food allergies.