What Are Food Challenges?

A food challenge is a great tool to diagnose and manage kids with food allergies.

Before making an appointment, it's good to know the reasons why your child may need a food challenge test.

In a food challenge, a doctor at the Food Allergy Center will:

  • Test only one food at a time.
  • Give your child small but increasing amounts of the suspect food.
  • Watch your child for an allergic reaction.

By the end of the day, your child will need to ingest a serving size of the food in question.

What if My Child Has an Allergic Reaction During the Food Challenge?

A team of doctors and nurses skilled in managing allergic reactions will care for your child.

Treatments we may give your child for an allergic reaction during a food challenge may include:

  • Drugs — like epinephrine, antihistamines, steroids, and albuterol — as needed.
  • An IV line to administer fluids and/or drugs.

In very rare cases, the team might take your child to the emergency department or admit him or her to the hospital for further observation.

Your Role in Your Child's Food Challenge

During a food challenge, we're asking your child to eat a food that you had him or her avoid.

You can ease your child's fear by letting him or her know it's safe to eat the food in this food challenge setting. As a caregiver, you can help by encouraging and comforting your child.

Where We Offer Food Challenge Testing

It's crucial to conduct food challenges in a controlled setting.

The Food Allergy Center at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, offers food challenges in our outpatient allergy/immunology clinic, on the third floor of the hospital.