Doubts cast on food intolerance testing

By Julie Deardorff

Chicago Tribune (MCT)

Published: Monday, April 23 2012 12:34 p.m. MDT

Dr. Gerard Mullin, a gastroenterologist, nutritionist and director of Integrative GI Nutrition Services at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said he used to be "vigilant" about ordering the tests. Now, although he thinks the IgG test can be useful for people who have trouble sticking to a strict elimination diet, he says partnering with a dietitian is a better use of money.

One of his patients, Nadine Oswald, 53, has taken several food sensitivity tests over the years to see if dietary changes could help with chronic fatigue, sinus congestion and gastrointestinal problems. She said the last test she took, which Mullin ordered, looked at whether she was allergic to or intolerant of 157 foods. The company billed her more than $5,000 for the tests, and her insurance company has refused to approve the benefit.

Still, her symptoms haven't resolved.

"You get desperate," said Oswald, a physician's assistant in Baltimore. "You get to the point where you want to feel better and do whatever the doctor suggests to get there. But clearly, spending $5,000 for a test that really didn't fix anything is frustrating."

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