The Impact of Food Allergies on Children

The Impact of Food Allergies on Children

Food allergies in children are common, and children who have them are often more anxious and socially isolated. Find out more about the psychological impact food allergies have on children.

Eating with food allergies is a challenge whether you’re an adult or a child — and some adults underestimate the psychological impact food allergies have on children. According to a recent study, children with food allergies are more anxious than other kids and may avoid social events where food is served to avoid feeling “different”.

Researchers in Italy found that children with food allergies are more anxious and socially isolated than their peers who are allergy-free. When there’s a social event, kids who have allergic reactions to foods are forced to bring along food they can safely eat — or not eat at all. This makes kids with food allergies anxious and uncomfortable at a time when it’s so important to “fit in”.

When Italian researchers studied the social habits of 107 young allergy-sufferers, they found 17% of them don’t go to events where food is served, while another 1 in 4 take their own food to an event. Not surprisingly, kids who have allergic reactions to food worry about having a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction if they’re accidentally exposed to a food their allergic to. Eating becomes a scary proposition for them.

Many children with food allergies carry an epinephrine pen everywhere they go to reverse the effects of an anaphylactic reaction should one occur. If they forget their pen or don’t have quick access to it, they have the very real risk of dying should a serious anaphylactic reaction occur. It’s lots of a stress for any child to have to deal with.

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Are there ways to help children with food allergies feel less stress?

Buy some cookbooks designed for people with allergies, and make some allergy-safe treats at home for your child to enjoy. If your child is reluctant to go to a party where they’ll have to bring along their own food, host a party in your home and serve foods that are safe for your child.

Emphasize to your child that life doesn’t revolve around food and what they can or can’t eat — and it’s okay to go to a party and enjoy being with other kids without eating the same things they eat. Help your child realize that other kids have medical issues such as diabetes, seizures or allergies and that it shouldn’t define who they are.

But whatever they do, make sure your child is safely equipped with an epinephrine pen. It could save their life.


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References:

Medical News Today. “Food Allergies in Children Cause Anxiety and Loneliness, Have Dramatic Impact on Their Quality of Life”