Reporter: Shannon Samson
Food allergies affect up to eight percent of children, which translates to about eight million kids living in fear of eating something that could kill them.
Many kids outgrow those allergies, but some may never know they've outgrown them at all. Now, a new approach takes out the guesswork and adds a little freedom to these kids' lives.
It's taken a long twelve years for Sarah Buster to enjoy food. "Let's see, peanut, egg and dairy are the three main things that I am allergic to. Then, banana, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, peas, shellfish."
But every year, the list of food she can eat gets longer. "This summer, I have added 18 foods all in all." That's a lot for a kid who once only had five foods she could eat. Pediatric allergist Dr. Robert Wood says a new approach opens pantry doors for kids like Sarah. "It turns out that allergy tests for food allergy are inaccurate. It's really bad to be avoiding foods that you are not truly allergic to because we are talking about these major food items."
Instead of using those allergy blood tests alone, Dr. Wood adds food challenges. They're given when the level of allergy antibodies in the blood test show a child has a fifty-fifty chance of passing the challenge.
Today, one of Dr. Wood's young patients, a boy, will find out if he's outgrown his milk allergy. "For some of these major foods, it is, if not the best day of their life, really close to the best day of their life."
Sarah has passed more than 30 food challenges. "I feel really happy whenever I get something added that I can now have that other kids are also able to have." It takes more than two hours to administer a food challenge. Doctors have to watch the child closely to determine if he or she has outgrown the allergy.