What is the most feared food allergy?

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Parents of a child with a food allergy must endure an ever-present unease and level of vigilance in order to make sure their child moves through the world safely.

A single food, a single bite, could be fatal.

But some allergies cause more anxiety than others. Most would readily say “the peanut” is the most feared. “Not so,” say researchers who discovered that the food allergies which cause the most angst are for milk and eggs.

Knowledge is power

In a new study, caregivers of children allergic to milk, egg, peanut or tree nut were asked about their children’s allergy experience and their own quality of life. Researchers found that caregivers who understood well their children’s allergy and how they would respond to exposure to the allergen had the highest quality of life. The authors were then surprised to find that the allergies that caused the most anxiety were milk and eggs.

“It’s assumed peanut and tree [nut] allergies are the most severe, and therefore it may be presumed they would cause the most strain for caregivers,” explained allergist Laura Howe, MD, lead author and ACAAI member. “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.”

Other anxieties included doubt about treating an allergic response appropriately and a worry that other people would not understand the seriousness of the food allergy.

“It is important for those who care for food-allergic children to work with an allergist to determine exactly what foods their child is allergic to, and how to respond in an emergency situation,” noted allergist Michael Foggs, MD, ACAAI resident. “Parents need to have a clear plan of action in case their child eats a food they shouldn’t. Children with a history of severe allergic reactions, and their caregivers, need to know how to administer epinephrine. Having plans in place can ease a parent’s worries.”

Source: ScienceDaily, Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

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