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Cross-reactivity occurs when antibodies created against one allergen respond to a different allergen that is biologically related. For example, research has shown that there is cross-reactivity among crustaceans, so people allergic to one type of shellfish are cautioned to avoid eating other kinds as well.
It is important to note, however, that cross-reactivity is not absolute and can vary. A patient's immune system may not respond, or respond equally to foods belonging to the same family. It is thus up to the physician to decide if testing for cross-reactive foods is appropriate, and if so which assay is to be performed when no test is available for the desired allergen.