Anyone who has a child who suffers from a food allergy knows just how difficult it can be to dine out or attend a birthday party. Even cookies-and-milk time at school can become a minefield for kids who are sensitive to foods like peanuts or walnuts. Parents can quickly become overwhelmed when they must be constantly vigilant about what their kids eat both at home and at school.
A recent study examined the myriad ways that common food allergies impact the lives of food-allergic children and their families at large. Caregivers of food-allergic children were asked to complete a questionnaire that evaluated the caregivers’ perception of the time and challenge involved in monitoring their families’ daily activities.
Eighty-seven families participated in the study, and more than 60% of the caregivers reported that food allergies significantly affected meal preparation. Almost half (49%) indicated that their kids’ food allergies affected family social activities, while 41% noted that it influenced the parents’ stress levels. Interestingly, 34% of the caregivers said that food allergies had a negative impact on school attendance, with 10% opting to home-school their children to protect them.
“Food allergy has a significant effect on activities of families of food-allergic children,” the authors reported in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (2006; 96 , 415–21). “Further study is needed to determine more detailed effects of food allergy on parent-child interactions and development.”
For more information on food allergies in children, see the September 2006 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.