A small survey affords a glimpse of the impact of food allergy on families with children just starting preschool or first grade.
Pediatric allergists with National Jewish Health, who presented a poster of survey results at the AAAAI/WAO joint congress in Orlando, say that among 15 parents who completed a survey, almost three-quarters of parents say their child’s social activities are limited due to food allergies.
There was a uniformly high level of concern that a child would suffer a severe reaction, and anxiety was also heightened when a child had experienced an anaphylactic reaction.
“The social burden was one of our findings,” said Dr. Ashika Odhav, the lead researcher. In this younger age group, “parents are either homeschooling their child or they’re not having a babysitter or even grandparents look after their kids,” she said. Odhav says the reluctance to relinquish care to another caregiver leads to social restrictions that children become aware of. “A child realizes they’re different when they can’t go over to other kids’ houses because the parents are so worried,” she says.
To help families of food allergy children, the researchers are completing an online education tool, working in conjunction with resources such as websites Allergyhome.org and Allergysafekids.org. “We want to help improve the quality of life by decreasing parental anxiety and preventing the child’s anxiety from developing,” Odhav says.
The researcher says it’s important for families to find a balance so that sufficient food precautions are achieved without tipping into a diminished quality of life. “It won’t be the same for every parent, but it’s important not to isolate the child simply because they have a food allergy,” she says.
For full coverage of the AAAAI/WAO joint congress, see here.