There’s a lot of talk out there about the growing number of food allergy diagnoses, and the need for better tools to manage them. Rarely though is there talk about the need for ways to better SUPPORT the people and families living with food allergies!
As many of our team members know first-hand, it can be stressful, to say the least!
This year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and its food allergy division, Kids With Food Allergies (KFA), conducted a three-part study: “My Life With Food Allergy.” The goal of the survey is to better understand the burden of food allergies on: 1) parents of children with food allergies; 2) teens/young adult patients with food allergies; and 3) adults with food allergies.
The first study surveyed roughly 1,200 parents and was released last month. It summarized the social, emotional, and financial impact on parents/caregivers of children with food allergies.
Below are the key takeaways:
1. Mental and emotional health is impacted.
The mental and emotional impact of food allergies is greater on parents/caregivers than it is on the child with food allergies. The study found that fear, anxiety, and worry were common themes among these parents’ experiences.
2. Social lives are strained.
A child’s food allergy diagnosis creates a “new normal” for parents. Surveyed parents reported skipping events such as birthday parties, dining out, travel, entertainment activities, and even school functions because of their child’s food allergies.
3. Family finances and free time are adversely affected.
For some families, the needs that come from caring for a child with food allergies present a major financial burden. For example, 44% of respondents said they or their spouse had to make a career change—some even left their job to stay home and care for the child.
The report highlighted some additional eye-opening themes among parents.
· 59% felt they could never let their guard down
· 82% said they thought about food allergies all the time
· 33% didn’t feel comfortable asking for help when needed
· 82% changed family traditions because of food allergies
The study concluded with a list of unmet needs, including a need for greater peer-to-peer emotional support, increased public awareness—particularly at schools, and greater financial support. Parents also called for drug pricing transparency, particularly since the price of epinephrine has skyrocketed in recent years.
A big thanks to AAFA and KFA for carrying out this study and sharing this important information. We look forward to parts two and three!
– Meg & the Allergy Amulet Team