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New study aims to better understand the role of food allergy testing in childhood eczema

25 April 2018

GPs and researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Southampton and Nottingham have been funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research to undertake a study to explore the role of food allergy testing in children with eczema.

Eczema is common, affecting one in five children.  Many parents worry that it’s caused by something that their child is eating and will ask their GP about an allergy test.  However, allergy tests are imperfect and we don’t know whether avoiding certain foods makes any difference to eczema symptoms.  Patients and doctors agree that this problem is a research priority.

The Trial of Eczema allergy Screening Tests (TEST) study will help decide whether routine allergy tests for children with eczema are helpful or not.  Eighty children in and around the Bristol area will take part in a clinical trial.

Half will receive usual care from their GP, while the other half will be asked extra questions and offered skin prick allergy tests. This involves ‘pricking’ small drops of six common allergy-causing foods (cow's milk, peanut, hen's egg, codfish, wheat and cashew) into the skin and noting any reaction, for example, swelling.

Some children will be also be observed eating some of the food(s) at their local hospital.  Depending on what the tests show, parents will be advised what foods are safe or should be avoided at home.  The children will be followed up for six months and some parents and GPs interviewed to find out what they think about the tests and the study itself.

Dr Matthew Ridd, a GP and Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol said: “At the end of this project, we will know how well a bigger study, involving more GPs, parents and children, would work.  We will also have a better understanding of what parents and GPs think about food allergies and tests in children with eczema.

Recruitment to the study begins in summer 2018 and the results will be reported in early 2020.  For more information, see the study website, follow progress on Twitter (@eczema_allergy) or email

 Allergy awareness week 23-29 April 2018:

Further information

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) at the University of Bristol is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. It sits within Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching. Follow us on Twitter: @capcbristol.

About the NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research.

Established by the Department of Health and Social Care, the NIHR:

  • funds high quality research to improve health
  • trains and supports health researchers
  • provides world-class research facilities
  • works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
  • involves patients and the public at every step.

For further information, visit the NIHR website

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