Parents should be aware that complementary therapies and the allergy tests they can buy online for home use are not backed up by scientific research, warns the NHS watchdog NICE.

Dr Adam Fox, a leading allergy doctor involved in the NICE study, says he often sees patients whose parents originally resorted to home test kits, because GPs didn't take concerns about their child's allergy seriously

It's estimated that 1 in 20 young children has a food allergy.

The review by NICE looked for any scientific research of the usefulness of approaches such as hair analysis and Vega testing (which uses mild electric currents), or kinesiology, in diagnosing allergies in children.

Dr Fox, who is based in the allergy clinic at Evelina Children's Hospital in London, said: "The websites are very well put together, the stories behind them are plausible, but we were unable to find any evidence to support them."

He said that the skin prick and blood sample tests used in NHS clinics like his own are backed up by scientific research.

He added: "Food allergies can actually be extremely subtle. Lots of children have eczema, colic or spit up more food than usual. For some of those children the underlying problem is an allergy to something within their diet."

Posted by Penny Hosie on 24.2.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com