Have you ever wondered if your child is perhaps not tolerating foods well? Could food sensitivities be contributing to the behavior or developmental issues your child is dealing with? Do you wish there was a more definitive way to determine foods your child isn’t digesting properly than an elimination diet? Well, you are not alone. A common issue in the nutrition world as well as the networks of families of children with special needs is food sensitivities and specifically, testing to determine food sensitivities.
Food sensitivity testing can tell you what foods your body is having an autoimmune reaction to at the time of testing. This means your body recognizes the proteins in the food as a foreign invader and mounts an immune response to try to “fight off” the predator. But in reality, it’s just a food molecule that didn’t get broken down all the way and your body doesn’t know the difference. One of the primary reasons that food sensitivities develop is from what is called “leaky gut.” Dr. Allison Siebecker lists possible causes here, and leaky gut is extremely common, if not the underlying issue of many pediatric neurological issues such as ADD/ADHD, Autism, general developmental delays, apraxia, etc.
In my experience, when I suspect foods may be contributing to a child’s problems, just removing gluten and dairy containing foods has resulted in huge breakthroughs for not just the child, but the whole family.
There are many different types of food sensitivity tests and the science/technology for these is consistently improving. There is a lot of skepticism about testing, because they often give results that change from meal to meal and are therefore unreliable. However, many people feel there are companies providing reliable enough testing to help when elimination diets are either not an option or there is no improvement with elimination diets.
One of the first questions I get from parents when I discuss the possibility of beginning a gluten free and casein free diet is, can we test for it. The answer is yes. Particularly for those two categories of food, testing is quite reliable and I have never come across a false positive. So, if there is a question regarding tolerance of gluten and/or dairy (casein) and removal of the foods completely for an elimination trial is not the first choice, we can test.
There are 3 tests I use depending on the situation. I will outline each test and the pros/cons below.
1. Cyrex Labs – Array 3 Gluten Test
TESTING METHOD: blood draw
- By far the most accurate, reliable and extensive for gluten sensitivity testing.
- catches reactions other tests have missed.
- Aggressive and committed to improving reliable technology
- Can pay online with requisition number from a practitioner (Blakely Page, RDN at Marian Hope)
- requires a full -blood draw from either a lab or a mobile phlebotomist.
- Draw fees not covered in cost of testing for pediatric clients.
- Array 3 will not determine any sensitivity except gluten. Other available arrays can be used to test for other foods
PRICE: $325 plus approximately $50 for in home lab draw in KC area
TESTING METHOD: stool sample
- parent/client can order test with or without practitioner
- no blood draw or needles of any kind
- Gluten only test is very inexpensive
- reliable based on my experience both personally and professionally (was what I first used to confirm my own gluten sensitivity)
- pay online
- can add-on dairy/casein easily for only $99
- not as extensive as other gluten tests available.
- could miss a reaction, but have not personally experienced this in my practice
- requires parent/client to save stool sample large enough for test which may mean collecting multiple stools for children.
TESTING METHOD: finger prick
- tests long-term reactions which can be more useful than all reactions.
- tests over 200 foods (including cow’s milk/casein)
- only requires a few large drops of blood (same amount as older blood sugar monitoring devices)
- will tell all foods that should be removed to promote healing of the gut
- can do test anywhere anytime without having to collect stool or do a blood draw
- parent or dietitian (Blakely Page, RDN) can do fingerstick
- new company and doesn’t have as much research, reviews, or testimonials
- does not test as many possible components of gluten as Cyrex test.
- cannot pay online (pay Blakely Page, RDN directly)
I believe gluten sensitivity testing can be particularly helpful in navigating how to move forward when there is any question about the tolerance of gluten.
If you are interested in food sensitivity testing for anyone in your family, contact Blakely Page, RDN for details on how to move forward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although it is not required or included in the cost of the testing, Marian Hope and Blakely Page, RDN strongly advise scheduling appointment ($80) with Blakely to review results, answer questions, and help you develop a plan moving forward.