Monday, March 21, 2011

How Stressed Are You? Food Allergies and Quality of Life

Mothers of food allergic children report extremely high levels of stress and a new study sponsored by the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) shows that their quality of life can be significantly affected as well.

Data were collected from 1,126 caregivers. The impact of food allergy on caregiver quality of life varied widely with 1 exception: caregivers consistently reported being troubled by social limitations resulting from their child's food allergy. Poor quality of life was significantly more likely on a number of survey items among caregivers more knowledgeable about food allergy and among caregivers whose children had been to the emergency department for food allergy in the past year, had multiple food allergies, or were allergic to specific foods.

Here is a great interview with Dr. Ruchi Gupta, discussing this research.

Factors that increased stress and lowered quality of life:
1. Families who had been in the ER in the past year
2. Those who had kids with multiple food allergies
3. Those who were allergic to milk, wheat and/or egg
4. The more knowledgeable caregivers had a lower quality of life

Unfortunately, all four of the above affect us. (Number 4, because I constantly research and try to gather as much information as I can. Acquiring knowledge is my coping mechanism) It's something I'm always thinking about, especially in new situations. I'm really stressed about Rowan attending preschool in the fall. I have to give up all control during those days and trust the school to keep her safe. Kindergarten has been easy with Rylie (no snacks), but next year she'll be in first grade, eating lunch in the cafeteria and having snacks in the classroom. Social situations are always tricky too - family gatherings, birthday parties, play dates. I also worry that in raising awareness and trying to keep my kids safe, I'll be viewed as a crazy over-protective food-allergy parent.

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