Living with food allergy: What this means for children

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Abstract

Health-related knowledge, skills and attitudes that translate to behaviours are important foundations for healthy living. However, deficiencies in any one of these factors have the potential to impact quality of life. This study investigates how Australian children perceive and manage their food allergy as they transition through childhood onto adolescence. To measure this, children aged 12 years and under completed an online survey [under 8 years and 8–12 years] on knowledge, skills and attitudes. Although recruitment involved advertisements to over 700 Australian pre-schools, 44 allergy specialists and multiple representations to the patient support group, Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, completion relied on parental notification and/or guidance. Of the 139 participants recruited, 114 commenced the survey with 65 participants under 8 years (58%) and 49 between 8 and 12 years. Results showed participants recognised different ways to keep safe with children under 8 years (N = 65) 100% cognisant of the need to check with ‘Mum/Dad’ or teachers if they could safely eat food as well as the importance of not swapping lunches, while there was a slight change in compliance for those aged 8–12 years as three (6.1%, n = 3/49) children did not see the necessity of asking an adult/teacher if a food item was safe to eat. Older children were also less likely to tell friends about their food allergy even if they thought they were having an allergic reaction, despite children under 8 years more likely to feel different to friends (38%, n = 24/64) compared to those aged 8–12 years (31%, n = 14/45). Although both groups disliked parents’ fussing, for children under 8 years, there was a strong association between this and ‘feeling different to friends'. Results from this study highlight the importance of normalising food allergy at home and in the community, so children are confident in telling others about their food allergy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Child Health Care
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2021

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