A. It is a myth that young kids don't get allergies, which is likely why many allergy medicines are approved for use in infants as young as six months of age.
Allergy Skin TestingMany parents believe that their kids have to reach a certain age, like when they start school, before they can get tested for allergies. This is mostly because they think allergy testing, especially skin testing, is painful.
However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in their Guide to Your Child's Allergies and Asthma, 'age is no barrier to skin testing; positive results can be obtained at any age' and 'allergy skin testing is safe and relatively painless if conducted properly by an experienced physician or clinic.'
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology also states that 'children of any age can be tested for allergies.'
Allergy Blood TestsThe radioallergosorbent test or RAST, such as the Immunocap, is an alternative to allergy skin testing. While you will likely need to see a Pediatric Allergist to have allergy skin testing on your younger child, even your Pediatrician can likely order a RAST allergy blood test. RAST testing can help to detect food allergies and allergies to common environmental allergy triggers, such as dust mites, mold, pet dander, and pollen, etc.
The downside to RAST testing is that instead of seeing the small hives from skin testing that means that you are allergic to something, with the blood allergy test, you are simply measuring antibody levels and low levels may not always mean that your child is truly allergic to that allergen. So RAST tests have to be carefully interpreted by your doctor or you might end up being told that your child is allergic to everything, simply because he has low levels of antibodies to a lot of different things, which can be normal.
Testing Kids for AllergiesThe other big question is when 'should' you do allergy testing on your child. Just because your child has allergies doesn't mean he needs allergy testing, especially if his allergy symptoms are easily controlled with allergy medicines, such as Clarinex, Claritin, Singulair, or Zyrtec, etc., or by avoiding common allergy triggers, even if you aren't sure what specifically triggers your child's allergies.
Allergy testing can also be helpful if your child always has a runny nose and you aren't sure if he has allergies, recurrent colds, or chronic sinus infections. Many of these children, especially if they are in daycare, always have a runny nose because they keep getting sick and not because of allergies, and allergy testing can help to confirm whether or not they have any allergies.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Tips to Remember: What is allergy testing?