London: Hundreds of thousands of children are being misdiagnosed with food allergies because of unreliable tests sold online.
Youngsters are being put on unnecessary and restrictive diets, avoiding products containing egg, milk, fish and wheat, which can leave them malnourished.
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), UK, says doctors are often too quick to dismiss parents` concerns over their child`s runny nose or tummy ache - which can be symptomatic of an allergy, reports the Daily Mail.
Unsure what to do, many parents then turn to so-called `alternative allergy tests` sold by private firms online.
But these can provide inaccurate conclusions and have `dangerous` consequences for children`s health.
Many of their techniques - which include analysing strands of hair to measure someone`s electrical activity or muscle strength when they are close to an allergen - misdiagnose allergies and intolerances in children.
Experts who helped draw up the guidelines say children can become malnourished if they are put on strict diets which avoid vital nutrients.
Dr Adam Fox, consultant paediatric allergist at Guys and St Thomas` Hospital in London, who helped draw up the recommendations, said: "The NICE guidelines will say that there is no evidence for such approaches - and we think that is very helpful because parents are wasting time and money on them.
"They also often end up putting their children on very extensive restriction diets, which can leave them malnourished."