This Week’s Medical Q&A From Dr. Besser

The doctor suspects that my son has allergies
and recommended that we get him tested. What kind of tests should we expect?


The most common allergy tests are skin tests which are done for a variety of allergens- plants,
animals, mold, dust and some foods.  These tests are also called scratch
tests because of the way the testing is performed.  A small amount of each
individual allergen is placed on the skin and then the skin is scratched so the
allergen will go into the small scratch.  As many as 50 different
allergens can be tested for at one time in this manner.  The scratches are
generally done on the arms or upper back.  A positive reaction (meaning an
allergy is present) looks like a mosquito bite and is very itchy. Some
allergens (such as peanut allergies) can also be tested by a blood test, so
your doctor may do that as well.

I’ve heard so much lately about new vaccines
coming on the market, but I’m reluctant to get my son any shots that he doesn’t
really need. How do I know which ones he really should get?


That is actually a question you should discuss with your child’s pediatrician.  He or she can
direct you as to which of the newer shots are important .  Of course, your
child should have all of the standard immunizations for polio; tetnus,
diptheria, pertussis (called DTap); Measles, mumps, rubella (called MMR);
hepatitis; chicken pox (called varicella); hemophilus influenza (Hib);
pneumococcus; rotovirus(only given to infants); menigiococcus and of course,
the annual influenza vaccine.  If you would like more information on the
recommended immunization schedules for all ages (adults too), a good website is

At what age should my child stop seeing a


That question is probably better answered by your
pediatrician.  Some pediaricians will see their patients until they reach
age 21, others stop at age 18.  Alternatively, your child and the rest of
your family can see a Family Physician who sees both adults and children of all


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