Positivity rates of in vitro inhalant/respiratory and food allergy tests in the northern midwestern United States | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Positivity rates of in vitro inhalant/respiratory and food allergy tests in the northern midwestern United States

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September 27, 2018
by Michael S. Benninger, MD; Thomas Daly, MD; Kevin Graffmiller, MD


Rates of allergy-test positivity vary by country and by regions within countries. Several studies have looked at allergy test results to determine the most common allergens. Many of these studies have been based on surveys or on studies of small numbers of tests. Positivity rates for allergy tests are poorly defined in the northern midwestern region of the United States. We conducted a study to identify the rates of positive allergy tests for both inhalant/respiratory allergens and food allergens in the upper Midwest. We extracted from our laboratory database the results of all test samples sent for one of eight allergen panels that had been analyzed between Sept. 1, 2014, and Sept. 1, 2015. All testing was performed at The Cleveland Clinic with the Phadia ImmunoCAP system. The percentage of positive tests, the distribution of the most frequently positive tests, and the class of in vitro responses were identified. A total of 148,628 test results for 63 different allergens were identified. Of the 125,190 tests for inhalant/respiratory allergens, the most frequently positive were dog dander (24% of tests), cat dander (23%), dust mites (23% for both Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae), and June grass (21%). Of the 23,438 food tests, the most frequently positive test results were for milk (18%), peanut (17%), wheat (16%), and egg white (15%). Most of the results fell into classes 1 through 3, although there was still a notable number of very high responses (class 5 and 6). These findings suggest that there is wide variability in the positivity of in vitro allergy tests and that the likelihood of a positive result in screening panels can be estimated. Evaluating such rates will help identify the most and least common allergens and will help to cost-effectively refine allergy screening panels.

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