No party time for children with allergies


Dr Audrey Dunn-Galvin has brought together research from Europe, Asia, Australia and the US on the quality of life for those affected by food allergies. Dr Dunn-Galvin’s Research Group collected information on food anxiety, social and dietary restrictions, general emotional impact, food labelling and coping strategies from 250 questionnaires. They found many similarities over the different regions.

An Italian study found that due to their allergies 18% of children never attended parties. 75% of children (5-11 year-olds) also claimed to have a monotonous diet and a lack of interest in trying new foods.

Three-quarters of parents were concerned by inadequate food labelling, and reported that their children were reluctant to try new foods. Children with allergy were generally more anxious and felt more different than other children of the same age, and the feeling of difference increased as the children got older, entering their teenage years. Older children reported the uncertainty of living with food allergy induced a feeling of loss of control. A 12 year-old girl from Ireland writes “sometime you cannot find the cause [of a reaction] – it just happens. Not knowing makes you worried and unsure of yourself. When I have a first bite, if I’m not at home, I think is this it? Will I die? What can you do?”

The research reported the influence of a food allergy diagnosis from the parents point of view, with the struggle of how to support their children’s independence whilst controlling their own anxieties and genuine fears of risk. One parent of a young teenager confessed to being so paranoid about letting her son go out that she made up reasons for him not to be out.

The researchers concluded that the collation of all this information of the views of young people and children about their own disease will help the health professionals to respond more helpfully and appropriately.

Source: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

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First Published June 2007

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