Parents Worried Most if Child Was Allergic to Eggs, Milk

Caregivers of children with milk or egg allergies had lower quality of life than caregivers of children with nut allergies

(RxWiki News) Many children are allergic to peanuts, but parents may worry most about other food allergies.

A recent study found that milk and egg allergies caused parents the most concern.

This study showed that parents’ quality of life was most affected if their child had an allergy to milk or egg — both of which are foods found in numerous products on the market.

"Talk to your pediatrician about the best way to care for a child with allergies."

This study was led by Laura Howe, MD, of the University of Michigan Food Allergy Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Howe and colleagues studied 305 caregivers of children with food allergies. These researchers assessed the caregivers' quality of life. All the caregivers answered a detailed questionnaire and made a visit to the clinic between 2009 and 2011. All of the children had documented allergies to different foods.

The most common food allergies are allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, milk and eggs, so only caregivers of children with allergies to these foods were included in this study.

Of those in the study, 86 children were allergic to tree nuts, 82 to milk, 75 to peanuts and 62 to eggs.

More caregivers reported a lower quality of life if their child was allergic to eggs or milk than either of the nut allergies.

The researchers found that 196 caregivers (64.2 percent) accurately perceived how their child would react if they ingested a food to which they were allergic. This rate was even higher for caregivers whose child had experienced an anaphylactic reaction.

An anaphylactic reaction is a severe and possibly life-threatening reaction to something to which a person is allergic. It can cause the body to go into shock, lowering blood pressure and narrowing airways, leading to difficulty breathing.

This study showed that 15.6 percent of caregivers over-perceived how their child would react, and 19.3 thought their child’s reaction would be less severe than it could be.

The researchers found that quality of life was lower for caregivers with an inaccurate perception of how their child would react to an allergen. It was also lower for those with a lower income and those who had children with eczema (an allergic reaction of the skin). Quality of life was also reduced in caregivers of children with multiple food allergies, children who were older when they first showed a reaction to an allergen and caregivers who reported their child had anaphylaxis.

Dr. Howe and team expected that parents of children allergic to peanuts would report the lowest quality of life, but this wasn’t the case.

Dr. Howe said they were surprised by the results. "It's assumed peanut and tree allergies are the most severe, and therefore it may be presumed they would cause the most strain for caregivers," she said in a press release. "But because eggs and milk are everywhere, and used to prepare so many dishes, caregivers with children allergic to those two ingredients feel more worried and anxious."

The study's authors suggested that there need to be tools developed to help caregivers cope with children with allergies.

This study was appears in the July issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Matthew Greenhawt, MD, MBA, MSc, one of the study's authors, is an associate editor of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and has consulted for Deerfield Industries and Franke. He also served as speaker for the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and received funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Review Date: 
June 25, 2014