Allergy and Immunology

Published On 07/11/2011

We treat more children with allergy and immunology conditions than any other diagnosis. Our board-certified pediatric allergists and immunologists perform comprehensive laboratory and allergy skin testing to diagnose a child’s condition. We conduct research and consult a network of experts at other children’s hospitals on complex cases. A multidisciplinary team, including a respiratory therapist and dietitians, cares for each patient. Additionally, pediatric specialists from cardiology, critical care, hematology, neurology, pulmonology, gastroenterology and rheumatology may be part of the child’s care team.

Conditions we treat

  • Asthma, which is usually caused by allergens, restricts air in and out of the lungs.
  • Allergic rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal passageways, often with discharge. It is sometimes caused by pet dander, mold, dust or other inhaled allergens. 
  • Allergic reactions to food, insects and drugs are treated based on the severity of the condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of food allergies is on the rise. Although the cause of the rise is not well understood, approximately 90 percent of food allergies can be associated with a cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soybeans and wheat.
  • Skin allergies can be caused by a variety of different conditions. Some common skin conditions are rashes, hives, swelling, eczema, atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis.
  • Immune disorders occur when an immune system produces either insufficient or excess antibodies to attack its own healthy cells and tissue. Symptoms may come and go, which is why the disorders may be challenging to diagnose and treat. Our team treats a wide range of immune disorders including:
    • T cell disorders, such as DiGeorge Syndrome (DGS)
    • Hypogammaglobulinemia
    • Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID)
    • Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)
    • Hyper-IgE syndrome
    • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome
    • IPEX (immune dysregulation enteropathy polyendocrinopathy X-linked syndrome)
    • chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis
    • complement deficiencies
    • Chronic granulomatosis disease (CGD)

How we test

Our team uses a variety of tests and procedures to determine the best care for your child. Procedures may include:

  • Allergy skin tests
  • Bronchial challenge
  • Circulating eosinophil count
  • EIA tests
  • Penicillin skin testing
  • Pulmonary function studies
  • RAST testing
  • Secretion cytology
  • Serum immunoglobulin levels
  • Flow cytometry
  • T cell function
  • B cell function
  • Dihydrorhodamine

Before your visit

No antihistamines should be taken for three days (72 hours) prior to your child’s initial allergy visit. If your child is taking atarax (hydroxyzine) this medication should be stopped 7 days prior to the appointment.

Improving asthma care

Asthma quality initiatives like education and new protocols have lowered readmission rates of children with asthma, the most common diagnosis of Le Bonheur patients. 

We are working to improve the care of children with asthma in our community through the CHAMP (Changing High-Risk Asthma in Memphis through Partnership) program. 

A Pediatric Asthma Score in the hospital helps clinicians identify when a children’s condition is declining and established protocol for them to intervene quickly. Asthma educators also work with families to teach them about asthma triggers and how to respond when an asthma attack is imminent. As a result, many patients who were once hospitalized when asthma attacks grew severe are now treated earlier at home.

Resources for parents

There are many resources available to parents about allergies and immunology conditions. The Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality forecast provides information for asthmatics.  Other good resources include The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and American Academy of Pediatrics.