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December 15, 1978

Sweat Tests

Author Affiliations

The Children's Hospital Medical Center Boston

JAMA. 1978;240(25):2731-2732. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290250035009

To the Editor.—  It is appalling to note the high frequency of unreliable sweat tests. Some of the reasons for this poor performance are as follows: (1) the lack of interest of clinical chemists, (2) poorly trained technicians, (3) use of poorly standardized equipment, (4) the infrequency with which the test is done, (5) failure of the laboratory to establish internal standards, and (6) the complacency of pediatricians in accepting inadequate and sloppy reports.Many clinical chemists will shy away from having a patient come to the laboratory for the first two steps in the sweat test, ie, stimulating local sweat glands by pilocarpine (step 1), but will gladly accept a specimen of sweat for analysis. Step 2 is the collection of the sweat into either a gauze pad or filter pad. These specimens may or may not be acceptable for analysis because of small volume, inadequate collection, contamination, or