This post is sponsored by Kids With Food Allergies (KFA), a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) – all opinion in this blog post are my own.
Are you or a loved one affected by food allergies? There are millions of families affected by food allergies and the number is steadily growing each year. Food allergy affects not only the kids but the parents and this is an important topic that needs to be discussed in a supportive and resourceful setting.
Our allergy story
One of my scariest moment in parenthood was when my second daughter broke out in hives after eating something wrong. We rushed over to urgent care and found that she was allergic to certain types of seasoning. Luckily it didn’t get any more serious than that but the hives and welts lasted days and it took some time for her little body to rid itself of the toxins. It broke my heart that she was so uncomfortable and itchy as we helplessly gave her antihistamines and watched her suffer lasting symptoms for days.
From this incident, I’m much more mindful about what my kids eat and how the food is prepared and served.
Unfortunately, I’m not the only parent affected by kids and food allergies. It is currently estimated that 5.6 million children in the U.S. are living with a food allergy – that’s about one out of every 13 children. Many schools nowadays prohibit kids from bringing allergy-inducing foods such as nuts to keep all kids safe because you never know who might be affected in a community or classroom setting.
It is currently estimated that 5.6 million children in the U.S. are living with a food allergy – that’s about one out of every 13 children.
Kids With Food Allergies, A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Luckily, the online support community Kids With Food Allergies, a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), offers practical, evidence-based education to help parents understand food allergies, giving them a safe, private place to connect with other food allergy families. It is the largest online support community where parents can safely as ask questions, share stories, and learn about the latest news and research around food allergies.
Registration is free at www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/
Affects of Food Allergy On Parents
In a recent study, the AAFA reported outcomes from more than 2,000 patients and caregivers called “My Life With Food Allergies.” The results show that food allergies present a higher burden on caregivers than to patients with food allergies themselves.
These findings were presented to the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER)– a watchdog group who recently assessed the clinical effectiveness and value of treatments for peanut allergy. Thanks to the parent voice shared through the online survey, AAFA was able to present evidence to ICER about quality of life issues impacting families with peanut allergies.
The findings were shocking, to say the least. Parents of children with a food allergy can experience anxiety, depression, isolation, and stress associated with the risk of reaction and possible societal stigma. It causes extra time, money and effort around meal prep, grocery shopping and event planning/attendance.
Also, it creates a more stressful environment around the school, childcare, extracurricular activities and social events like birthday parties and travel.
In fact, the mental and emotional impact on parents is greater than that on the child with food allergies themselves.
Parents’ thoughts on their child’s food allergy
On a five-point scale (with 1 being “no impact” and 5 being “major impact”)
- 61% of respondents rated the impact of their child’s food allergy on their own mental health as a 4 or 5. On the same scale
- 60% rated the impact of their child’s food allergy on their own emotional health as a 4 or a 5
- When asked how often parents think about their child’s food allergy, 82% say it’s always in the back of their minds
- Nearly one-third (31%) of parents say they are currently seeing (or have seen in the past five years) a mental health professional related to their child’s food allergy.
Financial impact of food allergy
And financially, it’s not any easier:
- 44% of parents rated the impact as a 4 or 5
- Nearly half (44%) of parents say they or their spouse have had to make a career choice (such as quitting or changing jobs) in order to care for their child with food allergy
- 34% of respondents rated a 4 or 5 for the financial burden of the out-of-pocket cost of epinephrine, cost of lab tests or oral food challenges and the cost of co-pays for specialist doctor visits
- On the same scale, 26% rated the time burden of the travel required to see a specialist care provider as a 4 or 5
Life after allergies
Unfortunately, there isn’t much one can do to cure existing food allergies but I try to prevent more episodes in my home by encouraging healthy eating habits that include fruits, vegetables and other whole foods. I also try to avoid processed and fast food in the home as much as possible and am more mindful about how each dish is prepared.
If you are a parent with a child with food allergies, you are not alone.
Sometimes knowing that there are other parents out there who understand your struggles can provide a sense of relief. Kids With Food Allergies offers support and resources for you to connect with other parents who are going through similar struggles and adjustments. For anyone whose child was recently diagnosed, take their free online course with four lessons giving you all the information you need about food allergies.
Most state programs and nonprofits offer free or low-cost medicines, wit or without insurance. For information on possible patient assistance programs & to see if you qualify here are some helpful links:
Do you or a loved one suffer from food allergies? If so, how does it affect your daily life?