The current increase in the prevalence of food allergies appears to have several causes including better screening, improved diagnosis and changes in both the techniques used by food manufacturers and eating habits. Labial food challenge (LFC)is simple, rapid to perform and is associated with only low risks of systemic reaction. It is thus an appealing alternative to the oral food challenge (OFC) for pediatric use. We report a series of 202 LFC performed over two years in 142 children with food allergy suspected from the case history, positive skin prick tests and specific serum IgE assays: 156 LFC were positive; and 46 negative, followed by positive single-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges (SBPCFC). The foods provoking reactions were egg white (75 cases), peanut (60 cases), mustard (23 cases), cow's milk (13 cases), cod (8 cases), kiwi fruit, shrimp (4 cases each), chicken, peanut oil (3 cases each), hazel nuts (2 cases), and snails, apple, fennel, garlic, chilli peppers, pepper, and duck (1 case each). LFC positivity was mostly (89.7% of cases) manifested as a labial edema with contiguous urticaria. There were systemic reactions in 4.5% of cases: generalized urticaria, hoarseness and rapid-onset and generalized eczema. The 46 infants with negative LFC results had positive SBPCFC. The reactions were in 34 cases generalized urticaria, 10 cases asthma attacks, 2 cases early and generalized eczema, and in one case general anaphylactic shock. The sensitivity of the LFC was 77%. The LFC was easy to perform with children. Positive results indicate the presence of food allergy, but negative results require further investigations preferably double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge (DBPCFC).
Department of Respiratory and Allergic Diseases in Children and Adolescents, University Hospital Purpan, Toulouse, France.