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Fewer cases of 'real' peanut allergy than previously thought

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Thousands of children may have been wrongly diagnosed with peanut allergies after scientists developed a more accurate blood test to monitor reactions.

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Researchers at the University of Manchester worked with Swedish experts to create a test that detects specific antibodies from the part of the peanut responsible for potentially fatal allergic reactions - as opposed to current tests that pick up areas unrelated to allergies and give more false positive readings.

The new test’s effectiveness was proven at University Hospital of South Manchester, where 1,000 children were given biscuits with or without peanuts. About 80% of those thought to be allergic suffered no reaction after all. It was revealed most had hayfever and were allergic to grass or pollen rather than peanuts.

The 97% accuracy rate of the new blood test, which picks up antibodies to the RH2 protein, means one in 50 children were truly allergic instead of the previous estimate of one in 10.

Scientists do not expect to be able to adapt the test to detect milk, eggs and fish allergies more accurately.

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