Researchers say that parents and caregivers for children with milk and egg allergies have higher levels of stress than those with children who are allergic to peanuts. The findings were a surprise to the authors and were published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
"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," lead author and allergist Dr. Laura Howe said in a journal news 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 research team, lead by Howe, surveyed 305 caregivers of children with any of the four most common food allergies (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts) and also found that knowledge was important for stress levels. The more knowledge the parent or caregiver had about the allergy and the ingredients in the foods available for their children, the more peace of mind they had.
Researchers also measured expectations of allergic reaction versus reality, with most parents and caregivers having a clear understanding of the severity (64%) while others had unrealistic understanding of the severity of reaction (19% thought it was lower, 15% higher).
The study is enlightening on many levels and could become an eye-opener to allergists, parents and caregivers in regards to the reality of childhood allergies.