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April 4, 2006

Child Food Allergy Survey

New research from the University of Maryland shows that parents take special care to tend to their kids’ food allergies. The study appears in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Doctor Mary Bollinger’s team studied 87 families with children treated at the University of Maryland Allergy Practice for food allergies. Parents completed a survey covering topics including grocery shopping, meal preparation, and kids’ social activities.
Most parents reported that their child’s food allergy significantly affected meal preparation, grocery shopping, and social activities.
Most of the children in Bollinger’s study were allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, or shellfish. On average, they avoided four foods due to food allergies.

Kids’ food allergies also had a major social impact. Other activities including birthday parties, field trips, and sleepovers at friends’ houses were often affected by kids’ food allergies. If you've been parenting a food allergic child for awhile, you know the challenges at these events oh so well.

Working with the school nurse and staff can be so challenging that 10% of parents said they homeschooled their child because of the child’s food allergies.

A concerning finding is the parents who said they avoided (although not totally banned) letting their child take part in these activities:

> Playing at friends’ houses: 11 percent

> Day care or after-school care: 14 percent

> School parties or birthday parties: 10 percent

> Sleepovers at friends’ houses: 26 percent

> Camp: 26 percent

While relatively few parents totally banned those activities, many noted that their child’s food allergy had significantly affected those activities. Most parents noted food-allergy impact on social activities outside the home.

We've addressed this issue by bringing safe foods for our kids to outside events and rarely rely on others to have sufficient knowledge of label reading and cross-contamination issues. We realized early in our food allergy parenting research that even in educated environments, food allergic children can have exposures that lead to serious reactions.

Research Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Posted by David at April 4, 2006 8:56 AM


The figure about homeschooling is interesting. My daughter is allergic to Wheat, Egg, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Milk, Soy, seeds, oats, and a few more. At least the first three I've listed are anaphylactic situations. She currently is enrolled in a very small peanut-free preschool and only goes 3 mornings per week. I've been grateful to have their support and willingness to make accomodations whenever necessary, but next school year my daughter is to enter kindergarten. I thought I'd be strong enough to handle the challenges of the school environment, but watching how several elementary schools that my son has been enrolled in handle other children's peanut allergies and my son's own gluten-intolerance hasn't instilled me with great confidence. I'm seriously considering private tutoring or homeschooling for my daughter at this point. It isn't entirely about food allergies, but probably 50%.

Posted by: Laura at April 13, 2006 4:25 AM

They only avoided four foods on average? That seems impossible.

Thanks for this entry. I'm linking to it on my blog.

Posted by: Leslea at April 13, 2006 8:51 AM